“It's Valentine's Day on Sunday. That shows in this week's strawberry auction prices," says Marcel Biemans of Coöperatie Hoogstraten in Belgium. "On Wednesday, the nicest strawberries went for around €8/tray. These high prices are a result of two things. Good demand, and the lower quality of the Spanish strawberries that are currently on the market."
This year, the cooperative's farmers' winter strawberry acreage grew by 60%. So, Hoogstraten has extra supplies this season. "Nevertheless, it's still only a fraction of the volumes we sell in the high season. Winter strawberries are a true niche product. Don't forget the growers' costs either. They get good prices for their strawberries now, but cost prices are higher as well."
"Besides the price difference, there's a clear difference in quality too. That's between Hoogstraten and Spanish strawberries. When it comes to flavor and bite, our strawberries trump those from Spain. That's why some buyers prefer Hoogstraten strawberries despite their high price. It will be March in just a few weeks. Then the spring crops will go into production again. This acreage has also expanded somewhat this year. However, we only get large volumes in early April. Then we'll switch into high gear again," concludes Marcel.