The European strawberry market might have been extreme last year - but some things are same old same old. One of them is the International Soft Fruit Conference, which traditionally takes place at the start of the new year, and yesterday the moment was there. Old friends and new techniques occupied the Dutch exhibition hall.
The European soft fruit market hasn't been easy last year. Starting in spring, warm temperatures and a lack of cold weather resulted in many strawberries ripening much faster. Open-field strawberries, which normally are at least two weeks slow, had to be harvested along with the protected cultivation strawberries, resulting in high yields in a short time and shortages of harvest workers. Many farms could not cope with the rapid succession of harvests and were forced to leave parts of their fields unharvested last year.
Over summer, quality was an issue, and many small strawberries were harvested. "The price for larger strawberries remained fairly good, but the small sizes have been dirt cheap. Production was lost on the other hand due to the warm weather. After summer, gaps appeared in the supply, and prices skyrocketed. In October, the same cycle appeared: oversupply, followed by shortage. A year of extremes, Gerard van den Brand with the Dutch Strawberry Committee shared. "Extremes that will become the norm and which the sector will have to learn to deal with. "
You might say the unstable situation in the strawberry market makes growers not very eager to invest in new equipment - but the soft fruit market is still expanding rapidly, and therefore the atmosphere remained cheerful at the International Soft Fruit Conference. Best wishes for the new year were exchanged in the corridors. In the stands, again more than last year (just look at the photos), also positive sounds. A host of new products were brought by the various suppliers, including techniques for LED lighting to be able to grow strawberries year round.