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Christian de Haas, Jaguar the Fresh Company:

"First commercial citrus planting after thorough testing at our Egyptian test farm"

With strategic sourcing offices in South Africa, Peru, Chile, and Egypt and a purchasing office in China, Jaguar the Fresh Company serves customers across five continents. "This strategy is paying off. In recent years, we've, for example, invested in a test farm in Egypt. There, we test numerous new varieties for both the European and Asian markets," begins this Dutch company's commercial director Christian de Haas.

"We're currently testing mandarin varieties that are barely known in Western Europe. Developing these is a long-term endeavor. It's all about testing, testing, and testing, and it's a hell of a job to choose between the different varieties. But we now have our first commercial plantings. Ultimately, we aim to develop a line of early to late season oranges, juicing oranges, and easy peelers in Egypt."

Christian de Haas

However, Jaguar has no ambition to engage in cultivation itself. "We're traders, not growers. We, thus, see far more value in close partnerships with our growers, whom we connect to our global sales network. Being close to the source helps us in that. We train people all around the world and so give our clients access to the source. We focus our sales on the retail and food service market," says Christian.

"The Netherlands is our top European market, but depending on the product, we also have a strong standing in France, Scandinavia, and Eastern Europe. In China, we've built a significant position, and in India, our sales are growing. We're actively developing other Asian markets, too, with a planned office in Thailand. The African market is developing strongly, too. Nowadays, we make the best prices for South African apples in Africa itself."

"A major advantage is that we carry a recognizable brand. Among our trade partners, the Jaguar brand represents quality, specialism, reliability, and responsibility. Our brand's strong position means we're increasingly able to attract new buyers. We'll further expand that brand's essence in the coming years."

Product focus
That new strategy has also led to a stricter product focus at Jaguar. "Citrus and blueberries are our main products, and that's where our focus lies. We're also involved in the grape, avocado, and ginger markets. But the days of customers getting Spanish fruit and vegetables from us are over. We have plenty to do within our main products," explains Christian.

Jaguar holds a prominent position in overseas blueberries. "We're among the top five importers from Chile and are also growing significantly in Peru," says trade manager Lisan van Koppen. "That market was scorching for weeks, with major shortages and high prices. However, it's calmed down, and prices are back to normal. We can, therefore, serve other markets again. There's still ample growth potential in the blueberry market. It's far from fully developed, and much larger packages sell at lower prices."

Lisan van Koppen with Christian

Pre-season expectations for the Egyptian citrus season are high. "There have been quite a few Spanish interlopers in Egypt. That caused quite a frenzy in Egypt, but reality prevailed. Developments in Israel and issues around the Red Sea halted exports to markets like Bangladesh and the Middle East, putting far more pressure on the European market. Many Spanish companies also cut back on their programs, leading to excess fruit on the market. The prices were still good in the first weeks, but the large supply soon caused price pressure. Also, an oversupply of small sizes created the 'perfect storm', but the upcoming Ramadan could reduce that," Lisan explains.

Product availability
When asked about the biggest challenge for the business, Christian points to product availability. "Mother Nature has been causing us many headaches regarding filling the programs in recent years. We've always dealt with a natural product, but about ten years ago, our supply was more constant. For example, we could only fill 10% of our Chilean cherry programs to Asia this year. Shipping delays are commonplace, too. That's currently the case in the South African grape season. And, the NVWA inspects 30% of the Egyptian citrus arrivals. That doesn't help smooth trade flows. We also hope global relations improve. There's so much sentiment in the market right now," he concludes.

For more information:
Christian de Haas
Jaguar the fresh company
Tel.: +31 (0)180 750 556

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