The Belgium auction Veiling Hoogstraten produced 19.3 million kilos of tomato specialties in 2015 and that's an increase of 54.8% compared to 2014. "There was tremendous growth in specialties, and we expect an even higher volume this year," says Jan Engelen from Veiling Hoogstraten.
Almost half of the products are specialties
Veiling Hoogstraten is a cooperative Belgium auction. With over 98 acres artificial lighted greenhouses, they supply tomatoes year-round. "There is no beginning and no end of the season, so it is difficult to measure an increase in acreage. But we do expect an increase in specialties this year. Our growers currently have 395 acres tomatoes, 172 acres of which is used for the specialties," says Jan. "The key words snacking, taste and convenience fit perfect with the specialties. People want to eat something special and experience good taste."
Despite the increasing volume Jan does not expect the market to become saturated, "The acreage will continue to increase, but the number of specialties will fall again. We get larger blocks of the same product."
Great year for strawberries
In terms of strawberry production, Veiling Hoogstraten had a great year, "The annual average price was similar to 2014, but we had 3 million more kilos which hurt the price, especially in the summer." Veiling Hoogstraten expects less production this year, "In 2015 the plant material and the weather gave us a great deal of production, but this will most likely not happen in 2016. Of course, we have to wait and see what will happen. There are no major changes planned for the acreage of strawberries. The acreage of the other products will also remain the same, except for the specialties."
Veiling Hoogstraten's product sales reached 220 million euros in 2015; 14% more than in 2014. There were 13.4 million kilos of loose tomatoes in 2015, a increase of 4.3% compared to 2014. 19.3 million kilos of specialty tomatoes were grown in 2015, an increase of 54.8% compared to 2014. There were nearly 50 million kilos of vine tomatoes, a decrease of 6.9% compared to 2014. Zucchini supply rose by 19.2%, with a volume of 3.2 million kilos. Cucumber supply fell by 19%, with a volume of 5.8 million kilos. Bell peppers rose by 0.6%, with a volume of 29 million kilos. In 2015 the number of strawberries amounted to more than 33 million kilos, 9% more than in 2014."