Kiwi berries keep the summer alive

Kiwi berries meet the market's growing demand for convenience. Surprise your customers with this 'ready-to-eat snack berry' in the fruit section. The trade can rely on continuous supplies from early September to the middle of October!

Small carbon footprint
The kiwi berry (Actinidia arguta), also known as the Siberian gooseberry, is from the same family as the ordinary kiwi fruit, but originates in colder latitudes. The plant thrives perfectly in a moderate climate like ours. It is grown outdoors and is very resistant to diseases and pests. In addition to the sustainable way in which it is grown, its low environmental footprint is another interesting selling point. Further significant increases in production are expected in the coming years, as the plants reach their optimum yields. Various varieties make it possible to stagger the harvest.

Steady increase in production
The early strains start producing in mid-August, and sales kick into top gear by early September. “Production is increasing year on year and we can guarantee consistent supplies until the middle of October”, confirms Natalie Snijers from the commercial service at Hoogstraten Auction. “Last year we handled 70 tonnes, and this year the production will be around 95 tonnes, intended for both the fresh market and industry. Belgian retailers are interested, and exports are also increasing. For example, demand from Germany is beginning to increase, and we are seeing sales rising.”
BelOrta Auction also sells kiwi berries in its organic range, and is expecting as much as 35 tonnes this season. By calling on a range of different varieties, BelOrta can guarantee a continuous supply. The kiwi berries are coaxed to the perfect pitch of ripeness under controlled conditions. The standard presentation for BelOrta's organic kiwi berries is in a 125 g shaker, but other packaging options are equally available on request.

Client-focused packaging
Kiwi berry growers also follow a strict set of specifications which prescribe quality standards and grading. There are 2 grades, 19 to 23 mm and 24 to 28 mm. this guarantees uniformity in the packaging and a well-prepared appearance on the fruit shelves. Hoogstraten Auction is investing in user- and product-friendly packaging: 12 x 125 g shakers in an attractive cardboard shaker box. Buyers may also use their own packaging. Sales by the LAVA auctions are centralised at Hoogstraten Auction and operate exclusively via intermediation: purchase of a set quantity is agreed in annual and weekly contracts.

Uninterrupted refrigeration chain
Kiwi berries are so sensitive to ethylene that they require a specific storage technique, which is an important point to bear in mind for marketing purposes. After picking, and during transport to the auction, the refrigeration chain is ensured in order to guarantee the quality. The growers deliver the product to the auction within 48 hours, and the auction keeps it at 2°C. Ethylene blockers stop the ripening process and round about the delivery time, the auctioned lots get a short 'ethylene shot', to reactivate the ripening process. “Once the product has ripened correctly, we supply the buyer with a ready-to-eat product with a certain firmness. If the berries are kept cool in the store, a further shelf life of 2 to 3 days is guaranteed”, reports Natalie Snijers.

Sensitive to ethylene
On the shop floor, be sure to display this product well away from products such as tomatoes and bananas, which give off ethylene and will hasten the kiwi berries' ripening process. And if you get harder berries, you can of course use these very products to accelerate the ripening process. Kiwi berries will keep for about a week at room temperature. Soft berries will only keep for 2 or 3 days.

The ideal little snack
Consumers are constantly looking for tasty foods that are quick and easy to eat and also healthy. The kiwi berry meets all these requirements. The shape, texture and skin make these berries a wonderful soft fruit. They are barely bigger than a grape, with a hairless, thin skin, and this makes them ideal for eating just as nature intended, without peeling or cutting. The berries are at their very best when they are soft and dark green. Their soft skin, sweet and juicy flesh make them ideal as a snack, but they are also delicious in any number of desserts and tasty dishes. In terms of nutritional value and flavour, they are just as good as an ordinary kiwifruit: rich in vitamin C (70 mg/100 g), with antioxidants, minerals and other healthy substances.

Late into the summer
The late summer promises another treat in store! Kiwi berries in handy shakers give the fruit shelves a fresh look. The best way to help your customers to get to know these fresh little berries is to provide some samples. Persuade them to go for 'something different': the tasty kiwi berry that is 'made in Belgium'. The practical shaker is a single serving, ready to eat, handy to keep in the car or beside the computer, and ideal for kiddies' greedy fingers. The shaker also carries a sticker giving tips on how to eat the kiwi berries when they are perfectly ripe. Be sure to point this out to your customers.

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