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Dried plums have a somewhat old-fashioned image. The increasing health consciousness could change this for the better. The dried fruit has a positive effect on intestinal bacteria, amongst other things. Trade Brothers is a company that is big in dried plums. The company imports its own produced product from Serbia.
Except for poppy seed, practically all nuts, seeds and dried subtropical fruits for the commercial market in the Netherlands are imported from other countries. Trade Brothers is one such company that imports nuts, legumes and dried fruit and vegetables. The company is specialised in own production of dried plums, legumes and corn for popping. In addition to the sales office in Rotterdam, the group also has offices in Serbia, Russia and China. “The production of our own dried plums in Serbia is special. It is what makes us fairly unique,” says Gasper Marusa from Trade Brothers. “Most trade companies import exclusively, but do not have own productions in the countries of origin.”
Moisture content all-decisive
Chile, Argentina, France and the US are the largest suppliers of dried plums globally. The French dried plums are distinctive and considered tastiest. “The moisture content of dried plums is all-decisive. French plums are known for containing much moisture. The dried plums are very soft because of that, but it also decreases their shelf life. Dried plums of other origins contain less moisture. Dried plums for export therefore have to contain less moisture, because of the longer transportation time.” In addition to the product’s moisture content, the conditions during the process and the ingredients added also have influence on the quality of the final product.
As an advantage of having own production dried plums in Serbia, Marusa mentions controlling the entire process. Trade Brothers can decide per customer under what circumstances the plums are dried. “We normally have a moisture level of 32 per cent, but this can be adjusted to be customer-specific,” Marusa says. The plums are cultivated by contractual cultivators, and are washed, stoned and dried in the factory immediately after harvesting. “Plums are still stoned by hand in Serbia and other Eastern bloc countries. It is more expensive than doing this by machine, but also much more accurate.” In the factory, 1,000 tonnes are produced every year. For the Serbian production, strains Stanley and President are mostly used. These strains also do well on the fresh market. Added advantage is that Serbian plums have a shorter transportation time. The dried plums can be in the Netherlands within two days. “The origin is not very well-known here, but the Serbian plums are good-quality, and much cheaper in price.”
In addition to the European season, Trade Brothers also imports dried plums from Argentina. The company sells the dried plums to wholesalers for sales in the Netherlands and abroad. They are offered by specialist nuts shops, specialist greengrocers, and in the Markthal in Rotterdam. Argentina is by far the most important country of origin for Trade Brothers, where they have their own trade office with European employees. The company also imports nuts, legumes, dried fruit and vegetables and lemons from this country. “With 3,000 pallets per year, we are one of the larger importers of Argentinian lemons in the Netherlands,” Marusa explains. “We are also quite active on the market of dried legumes. The Netherlands is not big in beans, but we see a slight increase in consumption, in part thanks to the attention paid to legumes year-round, and the increasing awareness of being healthy.”
The trade in dried fruit is in full swing near the end of November. Marusa says dried products are consumed more often in the winter period. The period before the holidays is traditionally still the busiest time for the sales of nuts and dried fruit. “We have noticed a slight increase in the consumption of dried fruit and vegetables, although it is increasing slightly less significantly than was expected, considering the increasing awareness of health,” he admits. “Dried plums still have the image that they are only eaten by older people, but that is not the case at all. Dried plums just taste good and they are healthy,” Marusa concludes.
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