Ton van Dalen, Oxin Growers:

"Dutch tomatoes and bell peppers start late, but prices offer perspective"

March was a dark month in the Netherlands, so the tomato and bell pepper supply got going particularly late. Cucumber and eggplant growers have been in production for some time. Commercial director Ton van Dalen of Oxin Growers takes stock.

"The first cucumber crop started well, but prices have since dropped back by 25-30%, something that's common when everyone's in production. At least this year, there's been no true market gap, as sometimes happens around week 12," begins Ton. Oxin's cucumber acreage has remained unchanged. Across the country, that's increased, though, with some 30 hectares being added, primarily by tomato growers switching to cucumber cultivation.

"Eggplants began the year well, too, payout price-wise. Those were around €3.50/kg early on but have now decreased to around €1. That's still 50 to 60% higher than last year, though." The lack of lit cultivation and dark March considerably delayed the tomato season. "What lit cultivation there was, was based on contract prices. No Dutch grower will use lights with these energy prices without price agreements," says Ton.

"However, all tomato varieties are off to a better start than last year. For the loose and smaller ones, prices are as much as €0.10 to €0.15 higher. That's also sorely needed to compensate for the increased costs. Those are significantly affecting especially the smaller, labor-intensive types. That's why there's been a shift from the smaller tomato segment to TOVs. In the larger segment, prices are more in line with last year, but it's early days still, so it remains to be seen what spring will mean for price development."

Virus pressure is also still haunting the market. "We may hear less about it, but it's still there. Fortunately, increasingly resistant varieties are being introduced, which is most welcome because the virus risk remains. And not only in the Netherlands but in countries like Spain and Morocco, too. It's important that these new resistant varieties don't compromise flavor and firmness," Van Dalen explains.

"Bell pepper cultivation started late too. Here, prices are developing well, with between €2.50 and 3.50 being paid for all colors. The Spanish supply has fallen way back due to variable weather conditions. That means that, unlike last year, the Dutch season can begin well."

"Oxin Growers is one of the few growers associations that could expand its acreage, especially for bell peppers. We added 50 hectares while keeping the tomato and cucumber acreage stable, despite some growers quitting. We're generally happy that growers know how to find their way to Oxin," concludes Ton.

For more information:
Ton van Dalen
Oxin Growers
Tel.: +31 (0) 180 203 202

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