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Grower Rik Vanackere:

"Belgian baby spinach and baby leaf benefit from limited Southern European supply"

It has been a good winter for Belgian baby spinach and baby leaf. Despite the greenhouse cultivation problems, production remained good at grower Rik Vanackere. "We were lucky. It wasn't a harsh winter, so we could reduce energy costs. There was also a very strong demand for baby spinach, baby leaf, and Salanova," he says.

The adverse weather in Southern Europe played a big part. "Our sales have been excellent in the last three months because there were fewer volumes from places like Spain. Their problems created a limited market supply, which we could fill nicely."

Production expansion
That benefited the grower, who had expanded his production in the summer of 2022. "Before then, we also had French beans. The ever-growing demand, however, means we're back to pre-pandemic levels for baby spinach and baby leaf. It's even better than that. Thus, we removed the beans and expanded the baby spinach and baby leaf acreage. So, we had more production this winter and could meet the higher demand," explains Rik.

Spain and Italy are slowly returning to the market, yet he remains optimistic about the coming months. Rik delivers produce, to order, under the Tomabel label to REO Veiling. "That means the product is very fresh, which sets us apart from the competition. It's harvested in the morning, cut, and sent straight to the cooperative, so it's on shelves in no time. We're very close to the action, which customers appreciate."

A stagnating market led the company to add Salanova several years ago. These small, loose-leafed lettuce heads are cut up for salad mixes. "It's caught on well recently," says Rik, "and its demand was high this entire winter too. We grow the Salanova both indoors and outdoors, so we can supply it year-round."

"In the spring, it always grows well because we have an acreage of convertible greenhouses. We can thus combine greenhouse and outdoor cultivation. That turns the product a beautiful red versus solely greenhouse cultivation when it grows a little browner," Rik concludes.

For more information:
Rik Vanackere
Tel.: +32 478 612 392

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