There are very few people who eat regular potatoes during the festive season,” begins Gerrit van Gelder, Van Gelder Groente en Fruit’s Managing Director. This Dutch company supplies fresh fruits and vegetables daily to the hospitality channel. Gerrit says people far more often choose special, processed, or ready-to-eat potatoes. His company’s assortment includes 50 different types of potatoes and potato products.
At this time of year, especially truffle potatoes, Roseval, Charlotte potatoes, sweet potatoes, gratins, baby potatoes, and wedges are favorites, says Gerrit. “Those are all pretty big items, but as the range keeps growing, the volume spreads over more and more products.”
He adds that although there is increasing demand for potato specialties throughout the year, sales of these skyrocket at Christmas. “Our potato range has tremendously over the past decade. Christmas menus always include some kind of potato product, and eateries present lovely dishes that include these,” Gerrit says. Then, flavor is a vital aspect of adding value. choice when it comes to flavor, like a Charlotte or truffle potato.” Van Gelder, for example, processes their own Roseval potatoes to cook sous vide with rosemary. “It’s not just a potato; we add value to that potato. The food market is always looking for new, more flavorful products, which consumers demand too,” he explains.
One of the recently introduced specialties is Frex potatoes from Finland. “These have a unique pure flavor. That’s thanks to their natural growing method and special growing conditions in rich Finnish soil, with pure groundwater and high light intensity.” Here, again, the importance of flavor comes into play. “Potatoes that grow too fast have little flavor, while slow, balanced cultivation ensures improved flavor,” explains the MD.
Gerrit also finds that convenience is becoming increasingly important. Though the hospitality sector still buys ware potatoes for everyday use, these are almost never unwashed and unpeeled – what he calls ‘dirty’ potatoes – anymore. Gerrit points out that huge volumes of those used to be sold. “Eateries and food markets no longer order dirty potatoes. It’s all shelf-ready; everything’s washed, peeled, processed, pre-cooked, or sous-vide cooked.”
Attractive, healthy dishes
Neither the fruit and vegetable sector nor Van Gelder Groenten in Fruit can escape the effects of inflation and rising prices, yet Gerrit considers this sector the right one in which to be. Meat and fish prices are facing increasingly higher price increases than fruits and vegetables. That means restaurateurs opt for slightly smaller cuts of meat and slighter more other components such as vegetables and potatoes. “It’s more profitable to serve more varied potatoes and vegetables. The Netherlands has also become more sustainable; a tale that suits fruit and vegetables well. We’re in the right industry to offer attractive, healthy dishes to the food market which costs less than meat or fish,” he continues.
The trend of moving away from animal-based to more plant-based diets is evident in the hospitality industry, even apart from the increasing costs, states Gerrit. “We expected that change and have responded by investing and ensuring we have a complete range. We’re fully committed to offering the Dutch market attractive, healthy dishes that include more varied fruit and vegetable products.” That is something diners notice when they visit restaurants, says Gerrit.Guests are no longer satisfied with just a cauliflower floret or two; they want something special that adds value to the meal,” he concludes.
Gerrit van Gelder
Van Gelder Groente en Fruit
T: +31 (0)6 17 94 65 50