Marcel van der Pluijm founded Feeling Fresh on October 1, 2019. He does exports to North America. Soon PMA and Fruit Logistica followed. But then the global pandemic hit. And Marcel could not visit his US clients. Until last week. “For two years, I’ve not been able to travel. It was fantastic to speak to my customers face-to-face again,” says the Dutch exporter.
It was not only traveling, but exports too, that lagged to the United States last year. “Take bell peppers; I’ve been active in this export business for 28 years. In all those years, 2021 was the worst ever, volume-wise. We moved hardly any bell peppers. Air freight prices are sky-high. It costs $8 to $10 more to export a box of peppers than before the pandemic. That’s an extra €2 to €2.50 per kilo. We simply can’t compete with Mexican and Canadian production.”
“Dutch bell peppers are a drop in the total North American market bucket. That had a 12 to 25 million kg yearly volume, pre-COVID-19. But at certain times of the year, those overseas exports were very welcome in the Netherlands. And American customers usually love having Dutch and also Spanish bell peppers. We have a good name in the United States. People are willing to pay a premium price. But costs were getting too high. There were still some small shipments going out. But there were far fewer orders than usual,” Marcel explains.
“Bell pepper orders declined the most. Fortunately, we export the whole package. From bell peppers and eggplants to chicory and cucumber. That continued somewhat. Passenger flights go back into the summer schedule in April. I hope this trade will show more movement then. Hopefully, we’ll start to see some different fares as well.”
“Trading with North America is my baby. I don’t want to give that up. I consider my specialism not only as a strength. It’s a weakness too.”
“That’s if much of such an export market were to disappear. Though, I couldn’t have foreseen it happening this way. That’s why I’m having exploratory talks to expand my sales markets,” Marcel concludes.
A source: https://www.freshplaza.com