The year 2014 finished with an increased demand for soft fruit, "The overall market trend is good. Retailers also continue with the soft fruit programs in winter. In the United States and the United Kingdom you see 'berries' on the shelves more often, and for a longer period of time. Throughout the rest of Europe we are finally going to start programs that cover the whole year," says Ben van der Most from Driscoll's.
"The combination of the delayed arrival of Chilean blueberries and the high consumption in Europe has resulted in good prices. There was also a good level of demand from other destinations, such as the United States, China and the Far East. The Egyptian strawberry season was left behind due to the cold weather and the same goes for the supply from Morocco. Because of this, the demand for strawberries in December was high and the last greenhouse grown strawberries went for a good price," says Ben.
"At Driscoll's we build on our policy to provide retailers with consistent fresh quality, and beautiful, delicious soft fruit, ensuring consumers repeatedly come back to us. We believe that these three policies will contribute to the further development of consumption, and that our market share will rise," explains Ben.
Ben expects that blackberries will become one of the top items on European fruit and vegetable shelves, "Beginning in March the extra delicious blackberries start making their way to more and more supermarkets. We expect that our new varieties will bring changes to consumer behaviour. As a sector - from growers to retailers - we must ensure together that the 'cake' continues to rise, and that consumption grows. That is how we will create a 'win-win' situation for everybody."
Ben does not see the increasing acreage of greenhouse grown strawberries as a threat, "Of course we don't want the greenhouse acreage to increase tenfold, but I do believe that greenhouse cultivation actually contributes to a consistent delivery of goods to the supermarkets. The Dutch greenhouse strawberry sector has a future and will continue to expand. Our advantage is that we have production locations spread out all over the world, this means that we can provide our retailers with soft fruit all year round. We strive to deliver the fruit as efficiently as possible, with a short line between the production area and the market."
Along with the increasing volumes of soft fruit within European retail, Ben sees an enormous future for further destinations, such as China and India, "I am convinced that these markets will grow much more, and that Driscoll's can play an important role here."1/13/2015 Freshplaza