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Jan Engelen, Coöperatie Hoogstraten

Belgium: "Beef tomatoes are gradually becoming a specialty"

"At the moment we have started with the greenhouse production of strawberries. It is going well in terms of production. However, we still are about 1.5 million kilos behind in comparison to last year", says Jan Engelen of Coöperatie Hoogstraten. "At the moment the productions are getting underway and the prices have dropped enormously. We are at a mid price of below € 2 per kilo and that is weak for this period. The low price is a reaction to the previous weeks, when strawberries were scarce and prices were high. It is difficult to get started again and it will take another few weeks before we are through this period."

Lighted cultivation
The lighted cultivation of strawberries will start at the end of December and according to the commercial manager, the cultivation cycles will follow each other closely. "We do suspect that the large harvest of the autumn will be in the first weeks of production, given the warm summer and the present condition of the plants. Because the large volumes will come in the first weeks, there is likely to be a dip in November," Jan expects. The lighted cultivation is on a somewhat smaller scale and does not produce very large volumes. "In the lighted cultivation our approach is a bit more customer-oriented. There is a lot of interest in lighted product. It is a high-quality product and quite local which will give the supermarkets added value. We expect a good lighted season."

''Pepper needs a boost''
"We are approaching the end of the pepper cultivation, it will continue for another two to three weeks. It has not been great for the peppers this year. We have had ups and downs throughout the season. It has not been bad for the entire period, but we have had some sizeable downward outliers", according to Engelen. Coöperatie Hoogstraten hopes to get a better mid price for peppers next season. "We do a lot to give the peppers a boost by using different types of packaging, but the innovative character of peppers has been lost somewhat."

Jan Engelen

Unlike peppers, the tomato does not have a cultivation stop. "The tomato has also had a difficult summer, and that certainly applies to the beef and vine tomatoes. This is a result of a high production and low prices over a long period. Due to the warm weather, all productions in Europe were successful and that resulted in too high volumes on the market", says the commercial manager. Last month the market did recover and the prices are currently pretty good. "We hope to continue this as well as possible in the winter. It is a different story for specialties. These are subject to long-term agreements and continue a bit more stable. It is nice to see that the beef tomatoes are becoming a specialty. Belgium is one of the few countries that still cultivates beef tomatoes. In the Netherlands the cultivation of beef tomatoes has almost completely ended and we now see a growing demand from there again."

"Of the greenhouse vegetables, cucumber did have a very good year. We trade our cucumbers together with BelOrta and the middle price for cucumber is on a great level. We just hope that this will not affect production into the next year. With cucumber we often see that the balance between too much and too little is very small, which can have a major impact on the prices. Our next step is the participation at the Fruit Attraction where the focus will be on our product assortment", Jan concludes.

Visit Coöperatie Hoogstraten in hall 10 stand number 10F07A.

For more information:
Jan Engelen

Coöperatie Hoogstraten
Loenhoutseweg 59 (Kluis Z.1 - 1050)
2320 Hoogstraten, Belgium
+32 (0)33 40 02 11

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