Over the past few weeks, eggplants in the Netherlands were selling for up to 2.5 euros per kg. While that's not unusual for the time of the year, it's high in comparison with the rest of the season, according to says Michel den Ouden from Purple Pride. "The days are getting shorter and the yield is going down. The supply on the market is lower, so prices around this time of the year are often better. They sometimes say that you should grow eggplants at this time of year, but that actually applies to a lot of fruit vegetables."
Whether those higher prices can compensate for the otherwise poor eggplant season remains to be seen. Michel is doubtful: "During spring, the eggplant market was under pressure for a long time due to a high supply from Spain, with low prices as a result. Then in the summer we also had a period with very low prices, prices that we have not seen for a long time. It won't be possible to compensate for the high summer supply and low average prices with the current production."
Soon winter will arrive and Spain will also be on the market again. The high volumes from Spain are still a way off, however. The five growers affiliated with Purple Pride, who cultivate an area of 42 hectares and are responsible for 40 percent of Dutch eggplant production, will continue until week 45. Thanks to a lighting test at eggplant grower De Jong in Dinteloord on 0.7 hectares, just like last year, Dutch eggplants will remain on the market during winter. Expansion of the trial is currently not being considered. "We can still learn a lot so we keep the test this size. It's important to get a good handle on illuminated winter cultivation during a number of years first."
New construction and on the way to PlanetProof
Last season, the Dutch eggplant production area declined slightly. At Purple Pride there will be 5 hectares for 2019 thanks to new construction at De Jong in Dinteloord. In December, the plants will go into the new greenhouse. Additionally, since September 13 all affiliated growers at Purple Pride have PlanetProof certification. "It's a movement from consumers and retailers that will only become stronger. Purple Pride wants to be at the forefront, just like in the field of sustainability. Our affiliated growers work on geothermal energy, wood burning plants, the use of residual water from sugar beets and in many cases even a combination of sustainability initiatives."
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Michel den Ouden