Furore over 'dumped' bell peppers

There is not a grower who has not had to deal with it - fruit that has become unsellable due to the hot weather. Dutch bell pepper grower, Erik Gubbels, decided to use part of his failed crop as compost. Someone noticed this, and his actions have since been widely discussed.
 
Class 2
Bell peppers are sensitive. Too much sun, too high humidity, too little light - anything can cause this fruit not to develop well. Even under ideal circumstances, in the summer, a top grower will harvest a percentage of class 2 product. And the past summer's conditions were anything but ideal. The heat had a considerable effect on cultivation. "We harvested at least 20% class 2 product. These were not perfectly formed, had bumps, burns, soft spots, and had a shorter shelf life", says Erik. Added to this, he also got 10-15% unsellable product from the plants. These fruits could not even be sold as class 2.
 
Last week he decided to use this failed crop as fertilizer on a nearby field. Someone took a photo and sent it to the world. Erik decided to explain the bell peppers' origin to a regional broadcaster. Today, he is all over the news and over thousands of social media pages. People do not understand why the seemingly good, edible bell peppers were not sold. Or why a solution, such as donating them to the Foodbank or selling them as 'wonky' product, was not sought.
 


Thrown away
A few weeks ago, Greenco decided to give away their snack tomatoes. Erik also considered this. "You try to get rid of as much product as possible before you start looking at these kinds of solutions. However, do not underestimate how many bell peppers there were. You can hand out a pallet-full, but these volumes were almost impossible to tackle." He estimates that a supermarket chain with 40 or 50 stores will go through about 350.000 kg of bell pepper per year. "The amount at only our farm is more than half of this. There are still many other growers in the area with the same problem. This already yields enough product to provide each Dutch family with ten bell peppers. Then you still have Westland. The volumes are so big that it is no longer realistic to do something like this."

Market disruption
Giving away these amounts of bell peppers would only disrupt the market even more. However, the figures show that this action had little to do with money. "Class 2 product went for EUR0,01 and EUR0,02 per kg during this period. That is less than half a cent per bell pepper. Then you are just about giving it away. And there is still more product the market can absorb", said the grower.

Better times
Presently, the harvest of unsellable and class two product is almost at an end. "I think we will harvest the last of it this week. Next week everything should be relatively normal again. The advantage of class 2 products is that they leave the market quite quickly", says Erik. Prices can then pick up again - something the growers desperately need. "Fortunately, the price of class 1's has recovered. This is also happening with Class 2's. This has hit business hard. Normally, one percent of your product is not class 1. Now, it was almost 30%. This does not make the year any easier."

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