The Belgian General Farmers Syndicate (ABS) has sent an open letter to large Belgian stores. In it, it indicates that they do not agree with the prices growers receive for their products. There is currently an oversupply of winter vegetables, such as cabbage, on the Belgian market. The ABS, therefore, decided it was time to take action, which resulted in this open letter. According to the ABS, the supermarkets are, however, not responsible for the low prices that the growers receive.

Walk-through at supermarkets
The ABS noticed that fruit and vegetables are bought at a low price, but are resold to consumers at a high price. The General Farmers Syndicate visited Belgian supermarkets on its own initiative to see for itself what the actual prices are for fresh produce. "We noticed that the difference in price for red cabbage between the grower and the supermarket is more than EUR 2", says ABS chairman, Hendrik Vandamme. "In our opinion, that price difference is unjustifiable. I don't agree with the stores when they talk about the cost of personnel, transport, and packaging. When red cabbage costs just EUR 0.20 at auction and then is resold for ten times that amount in the supermarket, you have a large profit margin. When there are 25,000 red cabbages in a truck, you make a profit of EUR 50,000. That is a decent amount."

Buyers must end bids sooner
According to Hendrik, the traders who operate between the growers and the stores, not the stores themselves, are responsible for the low vegetable prices. "When there are enough vegetables on the market, as is the case now, they can abuse the situation when they buy the vegetables at auction", he says. "The buyers at the auctions wait as long as possible in order to get a low-as-possible price. This has resulted in the current prices received by growers being too low. Those buying the products are told by those higher-up when to put in their final bids. I want to implore these vegetable buyers to rather end their bids sooner in the future. In this way the growers will get the price, as well as the appreciation, they deserve."

Oversupply of winter vegetables
Hendrik admits that they have not yet received any response from the retail sector. Discussions with representatives of this sector are planned for next week. He admits to being curious as to what the outcome of these talks will be. "We are at the Agribex Growers Trade Show in Brussels at the moment. There have been many visitors to our stand who have come to show their support", he continues. "Growers work from early in the morning to late at night, but get very little in return. This is a problem and it must definitely change. Especially now, when there is an oversupply, growers shouldn't only make enough to cover costs. There should be a little left over too."

For more information:
Algemeen Boerensyndicaat
53 Industrieweg
8800 Beveren-Roeselare
T: +32 (0) 51 26 08 20
F: +32 (0) 51 24 25 39