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Pieter de Ruiter, 4Fruit Company:

"Whether it's Spanish round, plum, or cherry tomatoes; it remains a battle"

The Spanish vegetable (for both greenhouse and open field) and citrus markets are not exactly bustling. "Monday was a good sales day, but yesterday was considerably quieter. February began on a subdued note with the trade show, and it seems it will end the same way," says Pieter de Ruiter of 4Fruit Company in the Netherlands.

"Green (€12-€12.50) and red bell peppers (€9.50-€10) still fetch decent prices; the orange and yellow ones, though, are a different story. It's always the case with those colors. When they're in demand, they're like gold, but currently, you can hardly sell them for €7 to €7.50." This year's tomato market is no cause for celebration either. "Whether it's round, plum, or cherry tomatoes, it remains a battle," Pieter explains.

"Eggplants and zucchinis also aren't generating much excitement. Plenty of zucchinis are selling for €4 to €4.50. Eggplants are going for €5 bare and between €5.50 and €6 wrapped, so hardly luxurious prices. Spanish cucumber sales aren't bad, but more Dutch cucumbers are entering the market. They're, however, not exactly breaking the bank either."

"Spanish iceberg lettuce and broccoli sales are lagging, too. Prices hover around €6, €7, and then you must ensure the vegetables don't stay on the shelves too long, as their shelf life is limited. Also, the Spaniards have a major issue with water shortages. There are restrictions in many growing areas, which doesn't make things any easier for agriculture and horticulture," Pieter admits.

Expectations were high when the Spanish citrus season started. "Spain had a lower production and was counting on more revenue. But there's plenty of Egyptian produce on the market now, with more on the way. The Egyptians are literally at our doorstep, selling their oranges for €7.50 - €8, nonsensical prices. Spaniards want almost double that for Navelinas. While they may taste somewhat better, an orange is still an orange."

So, no highlights? "We're still importing Peruvian grapes. These lovely, large berries are fetching good prices, about €30 for 8.2 kg. That's fantastic. There's also good demand for South African grapes, which are good varieties, though they're slightly more reservedly sweet than the Peruvian ones," Pieter concludes diplomatically.

For more information:
Pieter de Ruiter
4 Fruit Company
30 Handelsweg
2988 DB, Ridderkerk, The Netherlands
Tel.: +31 (0) 180 641 902

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