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Dutch grower: "The supermarket determines in which tomato greenhouse the light remains on"

There are no tomatoes left in the normally lit greenhouse of Loek van Adrichem in Steenbergen in Brabant. The lights are off. The room is no longer heated. Only a handful of people are working. Jack up the greenhouse a bit for when the harvest starts again in March, says Van Adrichem. Employees install a second insulation screen to better keep the heat inside when the lights in the greenhouse are switched on again. It is a sad sight, but in fact, stopping the ‘lighted cultivation’ is the ‘salvation’ for his nursery, says the grower.

The prices of electricity and gas are so high that it is more expensive to grow tomatoes this winter than not to. A large part of the Dutch tomato growers, therefore, stops with lighted cultivation, where they grow tomatoes with artificial light. It normally takes place from November to March. According to John Willems, general manager of the growers’ association Royal Zon, only 20 percent of regular winter production will continue this year. A few growers are already bankrupt.

As a result, there will be far fewer Dutch tomatoes in the supermarket this winter, says a spokesperson for another growers’ association, Growers United. Growers who do not use lighting will be able to supply tomatoes again from about April. Supermarkets will, therefore, mainly import tomatoes from Spain and Morocco in the coming months, where no artificial lighting is required. Jumbo and Albert Heijn say that tomatoes will be too expensive for the consumer otherwise.

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