The Dutch redcurrant, raspberry, and blackberry season has begun at Berrybrothers. "It's the second consecutive year that we're already harvesting our first soft fruits in early May. This early start is due to us purchasing a new greenhouse for our red berries in 2021. A great development that's literally bearing fruit now. It adds to our goal of becoming a year-round supplier," says Nijs van Zuilen.
“There's an ever-rising demand for Dutch redcurrants and other soft fruit. That's why we've made new investments this year. We've bought an additional ten hectares of land at our main location for the outdoor cultivation of Rovada redcurrants. But there are developments at our other farm too. Last week, we planted the first blackberry plants in a new state-of-the-art tunnel there."
Those are Sweet Royalla blackberries, a new variety in which Berrybrothers has plenty of confidence. Nijs explains: "It's a better variety with delicious fruits. The berries are nice, big, and firm with a sweet, fresh flavor. We should start harvesting these in early August. But, we can already offer Dutch-grown blackberries thanks to our cooperation with a fellow grower."
“We try to extend our crop every year. Currently, harvesting begins in early May and runs to late October. So, we have freshly-picked Dutch berries for six months."
"That offers many opportunities but also some challenges, like recruiting staff. At present, we have the planning done up to July," continues Van Zuilen.
"That's because overseas laborers like working in the summer. Things start to become noticeably harder from August onwards. We're trying to encourage people to work for us via our new recruitment website, www.werkenbijberrybrothers.nl."
“We're very optimistic about the season. The hospitality industry has reopened, so the market is starting to pick up again. Combined with our retail customers and vendors, that bodes well," Nijs says. However, he remains down-to-earth about this. "The products' quality must naturally remain our top priority. That's the only thing that will allow us to continue growing," he concludes.