Emsland Gemüse abandons gas heating, groundbreaking ceremony to take place by the end of the year

"Due to the delayed start of the season, overbidding cannot be ruled out"

Emsland Gemüse Ltd is expected to be able to harvest the first tomatoes of this year's season in week 17, about two weeks later than in previous years. "Of course, we have also noticed how insanely high tomato prices are at the moment. Nevertheless, it remains to be seen how the market will develop in the coming weeks. In view of the current cost increases, first and foremost, wage and energy costs, a price increase of 30 percent would be appropriate. Since Dutch tomatoes will also be increasingly hitting the market in April, oversupplies in the early range cannot be ruled out," says Erwin Savenije, production manager at the tomato facility based in Emsbüren.

Crisp tomatoes from Emsland Gemüse

On some 18 hectares, mainly TOVs of the Sweeterno variety (approx. 70 percent) are thriving. In addition, cocktail tomatoes (Brioso) and cherry tomatoes (Rivolo) are being produced for German retailers. Savenije: "From a purely marketing point of view, we have had a few years of growth and were able to record pleasing sales figures and a slight price increase of three to five percent per year, even during the Corona crisis. Last year, however, we had to accept stagnation in both sales growth and price levels. At the same time, the past season was already characterized by rising operating and production costs. At the time of sale, cherry and cocktail tomatoes in particular came under noticeable pressure."

Cocktail tomatoes of the Brioso variety.

According to Savenije, 2023 will be a transitional year in every respect, with price playing a more crucial role than ever. "Inflation and its impact on consumer behavior are portrayed very negatively in the media. However, in my opinion, it is mainly a matter of habituation, whereby consumers will only adjust their buying behavior for a short time. As soon as the market has recovered to some extent and calm returns, things will quickly settle down again. Ultimately, the price adjustments must also be balanced, meaning not only does food get a little more expensive, but you also get a few percent more in wages."

The Emsland Gemüse tomato glasshouse  

According to the circumstances, the new building plans are now also being reconsidered. "In principle, we will start with the 12ha new building by the end of the year. Nevertheless, we want to wait for this season first so that we can make a well-thought-out decision as to whether we want to equip the new glasshouse area with bedding plants or tomato plants or whether we want to build a combined greenhouse. Otherwise, we see ourselves prepared for the future, for example, by being able to do without gas heating completely for a few months now. We have already had a wood-fired power plant for several years, and we put a second plant into operation last year. The accommodations for our harvest workers have also been up to date for several years."

Hydro lettuce has been produced on a modest scale for several years. For the time being, he says, the quantities are not suitable for commercial marketing and are primarily used in catering at the neighboring adventure park.

According to Savenije, further innovations are out of the question for the time being. "We also get to see the developments in HR tomato varieties, but fortunately, we have been spared from the Jordan virus so far. In traditional horticultural areas, this issue is more concise in that sense. Meanwhile, we are thinking about adding other fruiting vegetables, such as peppers or cucumbers, to the range at some point. But this is all still up in the air," Savenije concludes.

For more information:
Erwin Savenije
Emsland Gemüse GmbH
Sechs-Sterne-Weg 6
48488 Emsbüren
Tel.: +49 5903 93553-288

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