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"Easter demand for Dutch strawberries picking up well"

In Europe, soft fruit sales have a very positive outlook as Easter nears. "There's plenty of movement in the market. That's a good thing. The volumes from Southern Europe and Morocco are also slowly becoming available, so we have plenty of product to sell," begins the Dutch company Frankort&Koning's Business Development Manager Sjraar Hulsman. Here, he gives a market update on the various soft fruit varieties.

"The high energy prices meant considerably less lit strawberry cultivation in the winter. Prices, thus, remained fairly level. The returns differ per grower."

"But I think most greenhouse strawberry growers could grow for those prices, which didn't drop all winter. Things generally look good for all Dutch products," says Sjaar.

"The weather forecast is good; sunny weather and cooler nights benefit most greenhouse crops. The first plants, planted in December, came into production in early March."

"In consultation with our growers and customers, we're focusing on the earliest Sonsation variety crop. These rounder, tasty strawberries fit well with our clients' wishes. Productions are starting to become available quite well. Prices are between €32 and €38 for 10x500 grams," Sjraar explains.

"We've since begun marketing somewhat newer varieties like Inspire and Fandango. These, too, are beautiful strawberries with a somewhat tapered shape. They're more of a Southern European type but cultivated in the Netherlands. These strawberries' flavor wasn't yet up to par at the beginning of the season."

"That was due to a lack of light and higher production. That's now greatly improved, and these varieties also deliver a nice, tasty tray of strawberries, and we've included them in our sales. The Malling Centenary, which proved itself last year, is another of our growers' varieties that's now coming into production. Their prices are similar to those mentioned," says Hulsman.

Asparagus and strawberries
"Overall, there's demand, and buyers know we have Dutch strawberries. The supermarkets in our export markets are starting cautiously, but there's interest from the surrounding trade. In a sales market like Germany, especially, many strawberries are sold on the roadside and at markets."

"People especially want to start with our strawberries, alongside asparagus. However, the Elsanta ever-bearers will only start from weeks 15-16, later than last year. Then the Dutch season will really get going. What happens then is anyone's guess. But we are ready for it," Sjraar states.

"Spanish strawberry supplies have truly come loose for the last week or two and are selling for whatever they can. I expect those growers to have a bad year. First, prices were high, but there was no production; now that production's loosening up, prices are immediately under pressure. With all the challenges they've had with their crops, the current market level of €10-€15 for 10x500 grams isn't profitable."

Spanish, Moroccan blueberry seasons get going
"Blueberries had a tough overseas season in the winter. Peru, in particular, has expanded its production substantially in recent years," continues Sjraar.

"That put pressure on the market all over. That led to things like Chile sending hardly any blueberries to Europe in January. They could get rid of the product better in the United States."

"However, Morocco's bad weather and the declining overseas volume made prices rise rapidly from €4-€5 to €9-€10 per bulk kilo," the Business Development Manager says.

"For redcurrants, sales of Dutch berries from CA storage are well on track. Prices increase slightly every week, and batches that are stored well are fetching between €18 and €20/kg. Now we must wait for the first greenhouse redcurrants. I hope that connects because the overseas redcurrants have not-great quality, so I've not seen many of those on the market."

"Most raspberries currently come from Morocco. A few weeks ago, that price, too, skyrocketed toward €20,€25, but is now back to €10-€12. The first Dutch greenhouse Kwanza raspberries are already on the market. Some customers love these, and they fetch around €20  per kilo. That's also what Spanish and Moroccan blackberries currently sell for. For us, that's a relatively small item with fairly stable prices," Sjaar concludes.

For more information:
Sjraar Hulsman
Frankort & Koning
Tel.: + 31 (0) 773 897 328

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