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constant change, and much to come

Photo Report: International Soft Fruit Conference

The traditional New Year's reception for the soft fruit industry has come to an end. On Wednesday during the Dutch Strawberry Day and on Thursday during the International Soft Fruit Conference, which certainly included attention to blackberry, blueberry and raspberry, the exhibition hall in Den Bosch, Netherlands, was once again well filled.

Click here for the photo report.

More stable supply
As shared yesterday, the market is looking a more stable supply of soft fruit, and the industry is innovating in an attempt to answer this demand. Weather conditions, higher labor and input costs only to name a few.

One of the big breakthroughs expected in the upcoming years is the switch from trayplants to strawberries grown from seed, achieving more consistent plants. Breeding companies like ABZ Seeds, Netherlands, and Miyoshi Group, Japan, have been offering their varieties, and in recent years, several big breeding companies from the vegetable industry announced to be working on strawberry varieties as well, but it is strawberry breeder Limgroup was present to launch their first hybrid variety at the International Soft Fruit Conference.

And as the soft fruit industry evolves, new challenges arise, but as Ad van Laarhoven with Delphy commemorated, it's nowhere near a crisis situation. Real crisis in growing strawberries under glass was in the 1980s. Back then, there was no dry bread to be earned for growers. Since then, the sector has been on the rise, he noted.

Challenges, as you could also call the energy crisis with positive glasses on, are of course always there, but solutions to the "energy problem" are fortunately also plenty, as discussed it in more detail in some of the total of fourteen presentations held on Wednesday.

Click here for the photo report.

Another big topic of conversation, also on the exhibition floor in Den Bosch, filled with more than seven hundred people on both days, was the advance of everbearers. Certainly not new, but for many growers still a novelty. Breeders are giving them more and more choice with varieties that are suitable for Northwest European greenhouse cultivation. Everbeares, in turn, help meet another challenge, labor. A crop with everbearers promises a flatter labor pattern.

In the field of technology, a well-known fact is that there is relatively little movement in the Dutch market in terms of new construction. Renovations of existing greenhouses, however, are plentiful. Second or third screens, for example, are still in demand, and so screen installers are still pulling in massive numbers of screen miles from growers. New techniques are also always emerging, such as systems from Widontec and WolkyTolky.

Difficult product
According to Hans Vanderhallen of Coƶperatie Hoogstraten, strawberries are perhaps the most difficult fresh produce product to trade. He believes in the future of the auction clock, he said, provided the clock adapts to the times. And that is what is being done in Hoogstraten. More focus has been placed on account management and ties with retailers have also been strengthened. In this way, in the fickle strawberry market, they manage to sell sudden production peaks as well as possible with actions.

The annual meeting in Den Bosch, followed by the International Soft Fruit Conference on Thursday and field visits on Friday, remains a great opportunity to share knowledge and take steps together to do even better. Also in terms of cultivation. A plus point in contrast to other editions: the much-desired cold towards spring for strawberries was present this year. After the exhibition day there was even a chance to skate on natural ice for those who wanted to.

Click here for the photo report.