Expectations ran high ahead of the Spanish greenhouse vegetable season. It seemed the sky was the limit for these crops, given the lower winter production in the Netherlands. Those sky-high prices were lacking for some time but are now being reached for, especially bell peppers and tomatoes.
"Bell peppers are selling well, particularly the red, yellow, and orange ones. Green peppers must be very nice and green, then they reach €8. Sweet Palermo pointed peppers are also selling well. They're very scarce with prices of €13 to €15," says Pieter de Ruiter of the Dutch company 4Fruit Company.
Spanish tomato prices rose too. "We now easily get between €9 and €10 for round tomatoes and even as much as €12 for plum tomatoes. The cherry tomatoes are also doing well at €9-€10. We've not had these prices for weeks. November and December were quite dramatic with prices of €4 to €5."
Cold in Spain
"But it's not all good news. The cold has also set in in Almeria, and it's only just above freezing. That's causing cucumbers, eggplants, and zucchini growth and sizes to lag. Yet, prices aren't keeping up. We should be getting at least €9 for eggplants but are currently getting €7.50/€8. Even for zucchini, it's hard to get €8," Pieter continues.
Spanish full-soil vegetables, too, are faring better. "Murcia's night temperatures reach 4 to 5°C, and the days hardly get above 12°C. So, prices are high. Spanish ice lettuce is selling at between €10 and €11, broccoli for €11 to €12, and cauliflower, even for €18."
Except for a stray pallet, 4Fruit's persimmon season has come to a swift end. Pieter: "Very unfortunately, weather conditions - mainly too little water and too high temperatures - during a certain time of the growing season resulted in a roughly halved harvest."
The quite high prices are, however, not generally a reason for celebration at the import company. "Grapes and citrus are also well priced. It's nice, but certainly no cause for celebration. The market's somewhat opaque, and current prices aren't really healthy; customers are quite resistant to them too. I'd rather sell a truckload of trade for €10 than two pallets for €18," Pieter concludes.