Celeriac is hot; this carbohydrate substitute is part of the latest food trend. "An increasing number of celebrity and TV-chefs are using it in their dishes. We have noticed its popularity increasing in the Netherlands and that it is no longer only used in pea soup", says Kees Vrolijk, chairman of the Dutch Celeriac Growers Association. This rise in popularity has not, however, affected the price. "We, as Dutch growers, are 95% dependent on what happens abroad, especially to the east of the Netherlands, in countries such as Germany, Poland, Romania, Chechnia and Hungary."
The Netherlands is producing more celeriac. This can be seen in the growing acreage being used. "There are no official figures from Statistics Netherlands as yet. In 2016, the acreage grew from 1 500 to 1 700 hectares. The 2017 estimate is, hopefully, at 1 900 hectares", says Kees. "This is causing more emotion and expectation in the market. There are also good yields. Our member growers have been reporting their yields in September and October since 1999. This year's yield is one of the highest." These two factors, areal expansion and high yields, are putting extra pressure on the market.
"Everyone is reacting to this", says Kees. "Processors say sales are high, but celeriac is a difficult product to deliver. Its cost price is EUR 0,15 to EUR 0,20, but it has a low market price. The quality, size and residuals are determining prices at the moment. Currently, these are fluctuating between EUR 0,08 and EUR 0,10 on the fresh market. The ones that are too large and are sent to the industry make hardly any money; maybe a few cents. It is tragic."
Cold weather in Poland
Cold weather always improves prices, but this has not happened yet. "Poland is the largest celeriac producer in the world. A lot of celeriac is grown in the north and central parts of the country. The question is whether the weather is cold there yet. But the weather is only freezing in the south of Poland", concludes Kees.