Sometimes joy and sorrow are not far apart. This had to be what many farmers were experiencing first hand last year. While fruit growers were able to harvest significantly less fruit due to the frosty nights in April, 2017 brought a lush harvest to vegetable growers. The store rooms are currently much fuller than in previous years. In mid-January, 37 percent more carrots, 42 percent more celeriac, 72 percent more beetroots, 34 percent more headed cabbages and almost 60 percent more red cabbages were in stock than on average over the past three years. Only for are onions the stocks somewhat lower (-10%).
Due to the ideal weather conditions last fall, the growth had been better and vegetable growers harvested under better conditions than normal, explains Matija Nuic from the Association of Swiss Vegetable Producers.
Matthias Zurflüh of Swisscofel, the association of the Swiss Fruit, Vegetable and Potato Trade, adds: "If every grower harvests a little more vegetables, that results in a large additional yield over the entire cultivated area."
Due to the large stocks, Swiss carrots, celeriac, cabbages and such are now available for longer than in an average year. "For the carrots, we expect the amount will hold out to the new harvest," said Nuic. That is not always the case. Normally, the industry would import some quantities each spring.
For some vegetables, such as carrots, celeriac or cabbages, the quantities are expected to last until the "free phase". In the vegetable industry, this is the term for the period in which there are no added tariffs - when the competition of cheaper, imported vegetables is much stronger. However, Nuic and Zurflüh assume that the retail trade will rely on Swiss vegetables in this phase as well. This is what happened in comparable situations in the past.
Nuic points out that it is currently difficult to estimate how the inventory will evolve. After all, not the whole lot goes on sale; poor quality vegetables will be sorted out. "Occasionally, there is increased deterioration of the produce," says Nuic.
Of course, the larger inventories will have their effect on the prices. These are currently lower than last year.