Belgium: Aubergine acreage BelOrta quickly increasing

In 2017, Belgium auction BelOrta achieved a product turnover of €439 million - an increase of 7 per cent compared to product turnover in 2016. But what are the expectations for 2018? For instant, what's the acreage of the Belgium auctioneer doing?

Areas shift limited
Shifts can be seen in the BelOrta areas every year. One year the changes will be large, the next it will mostly concern small movements in production. For 2018, the area has remained at the status quo. Commercial Manager Jo Lambrecht talks about the limited shifts in the area. 

With 150 million kilograms, tomatoes are the biggest product for BelOrta undisputedly. “In tomatoes, the area of round tomatoes is decreasing, but beefsteak tomatoes Baron remain stable. In vine tomatoes, the Princess area is decreasing slightly, but there will be a nice expansion in Elite. Furthermore, the area of specialities is also increasing. We’ve noticed an evolution towards varieties with red flesh, both in vine, plum and cocktail tomatoes.”

With 135 million sold in 2017, cucumber is the number two regarding volume. For cucumbers and bell peppers there have been hardly any changes, although sweet pointed peppers are decreasing. A quick grower in the vegetable segment is aubergine, which has reported an increase of 25 per cent. “The interest in aubergines is also increasing because 2017 was a good year for our aubergine growers,” Jo says. “That is because the 2017-18 season started slowly in Southern Europe, among other things. Besides, we have promotion campaigns for aubergine.”

Beans and butterhead
The area for beans, which are mostly marketed in Belgium, is also moving, for example, there’s more room for wax beans. The area of French beans remains stable. Butterhead lettuce and lettuce varieties complete the turnover top three of vegetables with a volume of 65 million units in 2017. “For butterhead lettuce we’ve seen a decrease in greenhouse production in soil,” Jo continues. “However, hydroponic production has increased considerably in recent years.” Lettuce is a broad segment, with a range of 35 varieties. “It’s very broad, but we’re also getting new opportunities, such as with little gem and by working with processors.”

In strawberries, some changes can also be reported, but these shifts are often the result of a better balancing of supply. “For example, more will be grown in greenhouses and on substrate, but the supply of outdoor strawberries that BelOrta has been distinctive with for years also continues to be very interesting.” It’s not just Elsanta that does well. Although it’s still the most important variety, Jo also mentions the originally British variety Malling Centenary, Portola, Harmony and Elegance as some important varieties.

“The frost in April 2017 definitely hurt us in top fruit and cherries,” Jo continues. “Some growers were hit hard. We were ready to sell a considerable volume of cherries, but the frost threw a spanner in the works.” The Belgian auction invested in, among other things, a new sorting machine for the fruit. “We hope to fully utilise that line this year.”

For more information:
Jo Lambrecht
Tel: +32 (0)15/55.11.11

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