In the run-up to Easter, tomato prices rose, but cucumber and lettuce prices fell. Bell pepper prices proved unaffected by Easter, at least judging by the median price at the Federation of Belgian Horticultural Cooperatives (VBT). The median price over week 14 here is similar to that of week 13. Strawberry prices, on the other hand, rose sharply.
With an average kilo price of over EUR 2.56, the average price for peppers in week 14 is above the prices of 2021 and 2022. Orange pepper prices lag behind yellow and red, however.
Tomato prices are also well above the five-year average. The median price for loose tomatoes in week 14 is EUR 2.84. An average price higher than in 2021 and 2022 and more than twice the five-year average. The average price for vine tomatoes is at 2.33 EUR.
The average price for cucumber dipped briefly below the five-year average in week 12 but then climbed back up to above the five-year average. In week 14, this resulted in an average price of just under 33 euro cents each.
Substantially lower tomato production
In the latest business index for spring 2023, growers say they find it difficult to forecast production. 32% expect an increase in production, and 19% even a strong increase in production. In contrast, 38% of growers do not expect their production to increase in the next six months.
The production increase expectation can easily be explained by the adjusted productions in recent months due to the energy crisis. Compared to 2021, a better reference year than 2022 because of high energy prices even then, January saw a 53% drop in tomato production for vine tomatoes and 82% for loose tomatoes. In February, vine tomato production dropped even further, to 80% less compared to 2021, while loose tomatoes sank to 87% less. From this month, 'more normal' productions are expected, although people are still counting on 80-85% of normal volumes for spring.
Prices are set to rise slightly, according to 41% of growers, while 24% expect a slight price drop.
The median price for head lettuce and field lettuce fell in week 14.
For field lettuce, that means the price fell below the five-year average again.
The middle price for strawberries climbed from €5.62 to €7.74 per kilo. Prices for the Sonsation variety are still slightly above this, averaging 8.21 euros per kilo in week 14.
The above graphs come from the Flemish Department of Agriculture and Fisheries' agricultural figures page. All figures can be checked here: www.vlaanderen.be/landbouwcijfers. The VBT middle prices for vegetables for week 14 can be checked here. Those for fruit here.