Sign up for our daily Newsletter and stay up to date with all the latest news!

Subscribe I am already a subscriber

You are using software which is blocking our advertisements (adblocker).

As we provide the news for free, we are relying on revenues from our banners. So please disable your adblocker and reload the page to continue using this site.

Click here for a guide on disabling your adblocker.

Sign up for our daily Newsletter and stay up to date with all the latest news!

Subscribe I am already a subscriber
Philip Van Overbeke's daughter joins the Van Overbeke partnership:

"Now we can look at future decisions together"

For the Van Overbeke company from Waregem, the strawberry season officially kicked off yesterday with the harvest of their first Sonsations. Although the weather has slightly hindered the start, Philip Van Overbeke is optimistic. "The Sonsation strawberries are a bit slower to start than Elsanta. However, we expect the larger volumes to arrive in about two weeks. There has never been so much rain in the autumn and spring, but by that time, we hope it will have stopped, and with the sun, the volumes will find their way to the customers," he explains.

Where Philip exclusively grew Elsanta for a long time, they switched to Sonsation two years ago. "We had a lot of problems with root diseases and harvested many misshapen fruits at that time. That's why we decided to switch to Sonsation strawberries, from which we had our first full harvest last year," continues Philip. "We immediately had beautiful fruits and good yields. Practically no misshapen strawberries and almost no small sizes, which was a clear reason for us to continue with it."

And now follows a second season for the nursery, which offers its strawberries from April to January. "Many of my colleagues have started these days, and we have also harvested the first strawberries, so it's really starting to pick up now. However, we saw that there was quite a bit of pre-bloom in the plants, so we had to remove the first flowers. However, our cultivation advisor suggested that we could leave the rest of the pre-bloom that came out afterwards. If we had had to remove all of it, we would have been a week later for the real flower to bear fruit. Because it's pre-bloom, they are not so big yet. On the other hand, they are very nicely colored and delicious in taste. The sun and higher temperatures in the forecast can only be positive for the ripening of the fruits."

Demand comes with the sun
Looking at the coming months, Philip also sees a good summer ahead. "The yields in kilos will be comparable to previous years. There is no massive shift in acreage, so there is no reason to think there will be an oversupply. The future is always uncertain. It remains to be seen whether there will be moments when large volumes come onto the market at the same time or less. Moreover, demand is largely dependent on the weather. It can all affect prices during the season, but for now, the market seems to remain nicely balanced."

Yet, the entrepreneur notices a craving for the new strawberries. "Some of our customers are bakers and since last week, in the run-up to Easter, we have already received many inquiries about when the first strawberries would be available. Moreover, the temperature is heading towards 20 to 24 degrees this weekend, so I expect sales to go very smoothly. The prices are also at a good level for this time of year. In recent days, strawberries went for between €3.10 and €3.50 at the auctions. Those are prices that are comparable to other years, and no one should complain about."

Strawberry vending machines
In Waregem, they have already started filling up their strawberry vending machines, which now account for a large part of the sales. "Machine vending is really on the rise," assures Philip. "They are popping up everywhere, and every company has one or more now. It has taken over a large part of our sales. Where about 15 years ago we sold about 80 percent from our shop and 20 percent via vending machines, this has now shifted to 10 percent from the shop and 90 percent from the machine. It simply takes a lot of work off our hands, except for the refilling. You can use them for everything. From prepared dishes to potatoes and strawberries. Moreover, they are available 24 hours a day. You save on staff and time. The only downside is less contact with customers, which is always a bit of a shame, but every advantage has its disadvantage."

Daughter in the business
Where many companies in the sector struggle with succession issues, this will certainly not be a challenge for Philip. "Since last year, my daughter Jorien has joined the business, and we have established the Van Overbeke partnership. She has taken over 50 percent of the business. I must admit that it was a very comforting thought for me that I was no longer solely responsible for the decisions and the well-being of the business. Now, we can look at future decisions together. Moreover, I now focus more on the dairy farm and on the strawberries. It's great to be able to do this together with my daughter and not have to worry about the future of our family business."

For more information:
Philip and Jorien Van Overbeke
Strawberries Van Overbeke
Bessemstraat 65
8790 Waregem (Belgium)
Tel.: +32 (0) 56 61 43 88
[email protected]

Publication date: