"Belgium: "Being a grower is tough"

The Eurpean tomato market has gone through a brief upturn. "Last week, the price was back up, but we harvested a lot of produce this Monday, and now the price has dropped again. I’m now talking about the individual Prince tomatoes that I grow myself. The trade is not that strong. Of course, it is still holiday time. In addition, the weather is not helping because it really needs to be warm for a longer period for consumers to eat more tomatoes," says Patrick Olbrechts from Olbrechts tomaten, a company that supplies its produce to BelOrta.

Last year August it improved
According to the grower, the season so far is comparable to last year. "The production is good, but the average price has been quite moderate in recent years. It was between 60 and 65 cents for the big tomatoes. Last year we did well in August. For a longer period, the price was good. This is what we’re missing now." In addition to Prince tomatoes, Olbrechts also grows snack tomatoes in different colors. "That is a very different market. But a small part of the sales is through daily trading. The majority of it deals with contracts. The demand is there and the price has been agreed upon. This is a bit easier, the limited part for the daily trade is going well."

According to Olbrechts, the future for the tomato market is different for each organization. "The CHP story is also part of it. The first CHP's in Belgium are now ten years old, so they have to be replaced. In order to get things done, sometimes you need to expand. I see a market where there is still some room, especially for those smaller tomatoes. To be a grower is tough, you need to be at your highest level every day. You must be at the cutting edge. "In the tomato market it is really survival based for several growers, according to Olbrechts. The average prices had difficulty passing 65 cents in the last few years. If we had no CHP, it would have been a very difficult experience."

Olbrechts will not readily change to a different crop. "I specialize in tomatoes, and that's the way it stays." To change the whole set-up would also cost a lot of money. "Besides, what crop should you change to? Eggplants may be a bit better this year, but you do not know for how long. If the acreage for eggplants would increase by 2 hectares, that might be too much as well."

For more information:
Olbrechts bvba
Klemlei 9,
2861 O.L.V. Waver - België.
Telefoon: +32 (0)15 75 58 30

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