“Over the last five years, we have sold more plums than we had available.”

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At B&B Fruit, the largest plum producer in the Netherlands, the harvest has already started on some early plots on sandy soil. “These are small volumes. We will start the traditional harvest at the end of next week,” says Marinus Bunt. According to the plum grower, the harvest varies greatly from plot to plot. “Some plots are wetter than others. Because of the humidity, a few trees have died, but I think we will achieve a harvest of 70 to 80%.”

“The good news is that the taste of the fruit is fantastic. It has not dried out and the good weather has arrived just in time, because we have 15% of the fruit split in the early plots anyway. We have some hail damage here and there, but that is the case in almost all of the Netherlands. We will all have to tolerate a few aesthetic defects from time to time,” Bunt observes. “On our farm in Poland, the frost damage is more severe. There, we will have to buy additional products elsewhere to serve our customers on the domestic market.”

Three years ago, B&B opened a new 2,000 m² sorting and packing station in Herveld, with a new stone fruit sorting machine that also performs automatic quality sorting. “We are very satisfied with it. Because the machine selects internal and external quality, we can respond to specific customer needs and even automatically sort plums ready for consumption,” he explains.

The latest innovation introduced by the company is the Pluk-O-Trak, a harvester that has long been used for pome fruit and that Bunt has adapted to harvest plums. The machine has six pickers at different heights, which place the plums on a conveyor. The fruit then rolls to a large collection bin. “With the increasing labour costs, we do everything we can to process many kilos as efficiently and pleasantly as possible.”

From a business perspective, the grower sees no problem. “It has been very good in recent years. We have sold more plums than we have had in five years. We supply most of the large supermarkets in the Netherlands and also count a number of farm shops and greengrocers among our customers, and we have our own agent in Finland for sales in Scandinavia.”

As the only farm in the Netherlands, B&B fruit unites all links in the plum chain in one company, from planting the trees to selling the fresh plums, through fruit production, sorting and packaging. “In recent years, we have invested a lot in expanding the range of blue varieties. In fact, there are too few of us on the market for beautiful varieties. We have such a beautiful traditional product here that it is a pity that availability is a limiting factor.”

“With a larger commercial plantation, we see great marketing opportunities if we can extend the season. For about ten years, we have been researching new varieties of blue plums. We currently have more than 25,000 trees in our nursery. Ultimately, we want to market our blue varieties from the beginning of July to the end of October. Today, we are able to extend the season by about five weeks for a few customers and we would like to expand this initiative on a larger scale, but this will not happen overnight,” concludes Bunt.

This article is originally published on freshplaza.fr

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