For the time being, corona remains the most important item in horticulture. The financial results in 2020 were on average better than expected. Still, we should be careful. Many coronavirus measures are still in effect in most European countries. This affects the buyers of fruit, vegetables, flowers and plants. What's in store for Dutch horticulture? Find out in this update.
Uncertainty in the market causes small decrease in barometer
The Rabo Horticultural Barometer reached a value of 6.7 in the first quarter of 2021, see Figure 1. The performance of most companies was sufficient to good in 2020. Their liquidity was also more than sufficient.
Yet the barometer score dropped slightly. This seems to be mainly due to the uncertainty concerning the coronavirus. Businesses do not know when the restrictions in their industry will be over and how corona will influence sales and operations in the longer term. Income from support programs is also not clear yet for each individual company. The hospitality industry is still far from recovering and many companies are understaffed. Temporary employees may be more difficult to find this season. The lower score is due to the projections, not from last season.
Caution is key for vegetables under glass in 2021
2020 was a good year for vegetables under glass growers. After the crop rotation, and with the first products back on the market, everyone is a cautiously positive. Four points stand out. First of all, we see an expansion of bell pepper and (lighted) cucumber acreage. In addition, production can be affected by problems caused by the virus in, for example, tomatoes and cucumbers. Thirdly, there is uncertainty about exports to the United Kingdom (UK). Although this has been reasonable to date, there have been some difficulties in transport and customs clearance. And lastly, the consequences of this pandemic. Although online sales are still performing well, sales to restaurants, company canteens or events are doing very poorly.
Positive outlook for fruit cultivation
The hard fruit harvest was a few months ago. The prices for apples of Dutch origin have remained good. For pears, prices were significantly lower.
Strawberries had a good season. Large sales organizations offer good prices for this year's spring production. They want to make sure they have sufficient deliveries this year. The other products on the soft fruit market (blueberry, raspberry, blackberry) give a very mixed picture.
No crisis, but uncertainty for ornamentals
Until mid-December things looked good for the cut flowers and potted plants market. After that, major markets (florists and garden centers) closed by the new measures. Fortunately, a large part of the usual production in December (poinsettia, Helleborus, Ilex, Amaryllis) was already sold by then.
Prices for cut flowers fell afterwards, but these were still sold. However, the events and wedding industry is still under pressure. The demand for plants has been somewhat reduced due to the problems of reaching the end customer. Selling plants through online channels does offer opportunities.
Bulb cultivation wait and see
There is a lot of uncertainty in the flower bulb industry. This is due to the late export of flower bulbs last year and the consequences of the coronavirus. Yet the season ended better than we could have thought six months earlier. For example, exporters had little write-offs for deliveries of flower bulbs.
The tulip breeding season started well in 2021. Because of the different store closures, growers are concerned about the sales for the coming months. Lily prices seem to have passed the low point. But it remains a cautious recovery.