Surge in European demand for fresh fruit

An acceleration in the global trend towards more healthy eating – particularly fresh fruit – will have a positive long-term impact on fruit producers such as SAFE, according to SAFE‘s sales representative, Wibo van den Ende.

Wibo, who is based close to the port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands, where he has close access to SAFE’s European markets, says that while there is still a marked reduction in the consumption of fruit by catering companies in Europe, supermarkets are back and most of them are enjoying sales  above pre-Corona consumption levels.

Consumers, says Wibo, are increasingly buying more fruit, mainly citrus, apples, pears and kiwis – fruit which has a longer shelf life, is high in vitamin C and is not too expensive.

A market which has not returned at all, added Wibo, is the cruise liner and airport industry. “But it will come back. It’s like after 9/11 when people said they would never fly again, but it was not long before flights were back to normal. And while there may be significant changes, in the end, the cruise liners and airports will be back – as will their demand for fresh fruit.”

Looking back over the “weirdest season” he has ever experienced, Wibo said SAFE’s reputation as a reliable, fully certified and consistent supplier has stood the exporter in good stead. “It has also created new opportunities,” he said.

What will change long term, according to Wibo, is how people work. “Thanks to software such as ZOOM and others, there is no need to travel to and from work anymore – almost everything work-related can all be done from home – saving time and money.”

In his case, where meeting clients is critical to his success, Wibo says long-established networks have paid huge dividends. “Now we just meet online. The exception of course is when I have to be physically present to oversee the landing of  a consignment of fruit for one reason or another. Sometimes I have to be there in person.”

“There is no doubt that this virus and the pandemic which followed has been a game-changer,” asserts Wibo. “For a start no-one anticipated the duration of the pandemic and its global impact on everyone and everything.

“But we have adapted and managed to keep trading. Our systems and way of doing business have proved to be robust. And we can all be thankful for that.”

With the citrus season coming to an end, Wibo said the continued demand for fresh fruit would sustain table grape sales and he said he was looking forward another profitable season for SAFE.

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