In the Netherlands, Van Vugt Kruiden bought two nearby greenhouse companies, adding five hectares to its greenhouse acreage. "Expanding our Dutch cultivation is an important focus for us. Everyone claims they grow their own herbs, but we really do," Piet van Vugt proudly states.
"We try to grow more and more herbs, for as long as possible, in the Netherlands. By now, we have about 25 varieties of common herbs available year-round. This year, for the first time, we have Dutch-grown chervil year-round. That boosts our sales opportunities. We get many ad hoc market requests to fill on the same or the next day. That doesn't work if you have to import the herbs. And by supplying continuously, you keep your customers."
"But, guaranteeing the availability of good quality herbs remains challenging. We always go for 100% delivery to clients. Increasingly we manage to have local herbs available year-round. We also grow herbs in different places in Europe to ensure continuity. Currently, most of our fresh herbs come from Spain and Italy," says Piet, who runs the company with his four children and son-in-law. "Within Europe, we supply our customers ourselves; outside of Europe, we use the Dutch exporters' network."
"Our entire line's grown nicely. We're increasingly sending fresh herbs to the Middle East, and our Scandinavian buyers keep ordering well too. However, the economic recession is causing much uncertainty in the market. Everyone's costs are skyrocketing. Above all, we hope for a stable year; we haven't had that in the past two or three years. Our sales for both the basic and higher-end specialty ranges, fortunately, remain level," Piet continues.
"Some products are doing remarkably well. Flat-leaf parsley has had a nice entry into the retail channel and not at the expense of curly-leaf parsley, either. We grow edible flowers year-round in our greenhouse. Those sales, too, have boomed. But, volume-wise, basil remains the top seller. Yet, it remains a difficult product that cannot be refrigerated. The trouble begins with transportation; if the basil is transported in the wrong vehicle, it comes out black. Luckily, we as herb specialists are well prepared for that."
Piet says though herb consumption is quite stable, chances abound. "Many people still don't use fresh herbs; that poses a huge opportunity. We, thus, welcome any recipes using fresh herbs published in supermarket magazines. That genuinely makes a massive difference. Whether it's pesto with fresh basil, a cup of fresh mint tea, or homemade herb butter, our products have endless possibilities," he concludes.
Van Vugt Kruiden will be at Fruit Logistica, Hall 1.2, stand B-20.
For more information:
Piet van Vugt
Van Vugt Kruiden
2988 DA, Ridderkerk, NL
Tel.: +31 (0) 180 625 660