Spanish greenhouse vegetable growers came onto the market a little earlier this year. There is also a wide range of Dutch products available. This is making for a challenging market situation.
"We had good weather for a long time. Until recently, we had daytime temperatures of between 26 and 28°C. The nights were also still warm," says Stephan van Marrewijk. He has been working in Vicasol's Sales Department for twelve years now. Vicasol is a Spanish fresh produce wholesaler.
"It has since started cooling down. Hopefully, prices will liven up. This October is still dramatic. This year, there is a lot of product overlap. They are hampering each other significantly."
"That is a real pity. When there is such fierce competition, there are no winners. This situation will resolve itself soon. Once the Dutch produce is no longer on the market," says Stephan.
Together, Vicasol's farmers have an area of 1,700 hectares. There were no major changes in products within this acreage this year. "This year, we have slightly more aubergines and courgettes. This increase, however, does not affect the remaining products."
"The tomato acreage has stayed the same. We have a few more specialty products too. We are, for example, focusing on smaller, seedless bell peppers and different colored tomatoes," Stephan explains.
The organic area has again increased this year. This growth is, however, not as much as in previous years. "Last year, organic vegetables' supply and demand were not always very well balanced."
"There was too much of one product and not enough of another. This year, we lined up the volumes better, in advance, with our clients. Our total organic acreage now totals 162 hectares," he continues.
Vicasol exports its greenhouse vegetables to various markets. These include France, the United Kingdom, and Germany. They also send their produce to countries in Eastern Europe.
"That share has grown in size from nine to 14%. In the summer we certainly have many programs with Spanish supermarkets. We can, therefore, also agree on more winter programs. That is perfect for the markets that are not suitable for exports," Stephan says.
Supermarkets' demand for less plastic is a significant development. This has another side, too, according to this salesman. "Much is being said about it, but it must also be feasible. Plastic increases some products' shelf lives. No plastic means supermarkets must sell their vegetables faster."
According to Stephan, cooperatives have a bright future. "Vicasol has been around for 40 years. Of course, we have our daily struggles against the auctions. The advantage of cooperatives is that they defend their growers' interests, 100%."
"We also have hardly any overheads. In a year, we sell about 250 million kg of greenhouse vegetables. That is with a six-man sales team," Stephan concludes.