Pineapple prices are really good across Europe at the moment as shipping costs remain challenging, comments René Noordam from OptiTrade International, who sources the produce from the Dominican Republic. However, he fears the good pineapple prices will not last long as more strawberries are coming on sale in markets across Europe.
“The sales are going well. The prices are good for pineapples. I hope it will not change when the summer fruit comes in. Every year when strawberries are coming, then prices for pineapples are going down,” states Noordam.
Noordam highlights the frustrations and challenges experienced with the shipping lines and higher prices paid by producers and exporters worldwide. He also exports bananas from the Dominican Republic to Europe. This is done through his partnership with a group of banana growers, Banasplash from the island nation.
“The biggest problem at the moment is the high cost of the materials as well as the sea freight. Every month the prices of boxes increase. It is hard to calculate for bananas because we make year round contracts. The prices we calculated for materials are already more than 10% higher than at the start of the year. It is hard to communicate with shipping lines, for example in week 12 and 13 we were almost not able to load fruit in the Dominican Republic, the boat was already overloaded. That makes it hard for us to make delivery plans,” explains Noordam.
He has been importing pineapples to Europe to a mix of importers including retail and wholesalers since 2015. After a period of absence he is again sourcing and exporting pineapples from the Dominican Republic and shipping them via the Netherlands. He sells in Europe with his main markets in Eastern Europe. This he does on his own and in partnership with other companies.
“I first imported pineapples from Costa Rica and later we were looking for better quality, a shorter transit time and moved to the Dominican Republic in 2017. I was really surprised and I fell in love with the country. I saw the high quality fruit in the orchards, but the post-harvest care could be improved. We source all the fruit by ourselves. We have close contact with our growers and give them advice on how to pack in a better way to improve the post-harvest quality,” says Noordam.
He follows the advice of his Dutch grandfather, given to him as a child when he started trading with fruit and vegetables from a young age. “My grandfather taught me that it’s better to trade than to grow. He was right, it’s better to trade than to produce crops. If you grow you sit with produce in a warehouse that you can’t sell for the price you need.”
Although he followed this advice, Noordam learned as an exporter that it also helps to always buy direct from the source. For this he travels between the Dominican Republic, the Netherlands and Poland regularly to personally oversee the value chain of the pineapples, mangoes and avocados he sources in South America and sells in Europe.