The South African lychee import season is in full swing at N&K in the Netherlands. "The first air freight shipment arrived in week 45. That availability was challenging, but by flying to different destinations, we still received the lychees regularly. They were priced extremely high, especially at the beginning of the season, also because of the hot weather in South Africa," says Lorenza Ciccaroni.

Niels van Leeuwen and Lorenza Ciccaroni

This Dutch business' French parent company also imports lychees from Reunion. N&K, though, focuses entirely on importing the South African variety, which their supplier Tomahawk packages in N&K boxes. "We're receiving more flown-in lychees this week, as well as the first shipment by boat from Madagascar. We'll keep flying these in until late December."

"There's always demand for the large XXL sizes, with a small kernel and lots of pulp. The first sea freight containers from South Africa will begin arriving early next year. The Mauritius variety is well suited to traveling that distance by sea and will be on the market before the Chinese New Year," Lorenza explains.

"With the tree-ripened South African lychees, we can be distinctive regarding flavor and size. We sell plenty of them toward wholesale markets but also have programs with at least two supermarkets, one of which runs through to the end of the season. I'm optimistic about lychee consumption. It remains a specialty, but these exotics are slightly less exclusive than they used to be."

Baby pineapple sales take off
"We see that with products like passionfruit, too. These have become a commodity over the years. Our baby pineapple sales have also really taken off. France is the baby pineapple market par excellence," Lorenza continues. Although Christmas sales are no longer as prominent as they were, she expects it to become increasingly busy. "But people don't plan so far ahead anymore."

More than five years ago, Herold Hage and Lorenza Ciccaroni continued N&K as the French Kinobé group's Dutch import office. The company now has ten employees. "It proved to be a good match. We use our parent company's leading retail network, and they use our supplier network. We've also kept expanding our own sales elsewhere in Europe every year," says Ciccaroni.

"We thought the recession would affect exotics sales far more. But certainly, recently, the market for bulk exotics like avocados and mangoes has been excellent. The mango market is somewhat calmer now. However, volumes of many Peruvian products have noticeably declined sharply. This season, we're, for example, flying in most blueberries," Lorenza concludes.

For more information:
Lorenza Ciccaroni
N&K b.v.
Tel: +31 (0) 783 032 440