Cauliflower and broccoli: two products with a different look, but belonging to the same family. According to figures from FAOSTAT, the largest cauliflower producer in terms of volume is China, with a production of almost 9 million tonnes. It is followed by India, with more than 7 million tonnes. In Europe, the three largest producing countries are Spain, Italy and France, followed by Poland and Turkey. Due to the bad weather conditions in many European countries in recent weeks, the production volume is expected to fall and prices may increase.
China's domestic production is estimated to account for about 45% of the total global production. Most of this is intended for the domestic market. There are also some exports, which have recorded a slight increase. The post-harvest techniques have been improved and investments have also been made in the cold chain. China wishes to present itself internationally with this product. In fact, a 'Broccoli Demonstration Zone' has recently opened in the Zhejiang Province. The current price stands at around 1.35 dollars per kilo. In January and February, it was extremely cold and a part of the harvest was lost. As a result, the price has generally been higher than normal.
Prices in North America have so far been low. There is a lot of supply from California on the market and the demand has not been high. Next week, however, a price recovery is expected. On 8 June, the price for a box of cauliflowers from Salinas ranged between 14.45 and 16.65 dollars. The price for the same box from Santa Maria oscillated between 10 and 12 dollars. In contrast with cauliflower, broccoli prices have been much more stable. On 8 June, the price of a box (14 pieces) from Salinas stood between 12.45 and 13.55 dollars. In Santa Maria, prices for a box (14 pieces) ranged between 11.00 and 12.85 dollars. According to a trader, the reason for this is that the broccoli market remains stable compared to the cauliflower one. "Broccoli can be stored for a week on ice, but cauliflower needs to be sold as quickly as possible after the harvest."
Last week, Poland recorded daytime temperatures of around 25 degrees Celsius, but at night it was a lot colder. The cold does not have any impact on the quality of broccoli and cauliflower; it only results in a slower growth. The Polish season lasts from mid-June to late October and is expected to start within the next few weeks. Cauliflower is a traditional product, but broccoli is gaining ground. Cauliflower is still more widely consumed, but it is expected that the product will eventually be overtaken by broccoli. Consumers are very traditional, so new products, such as Romanesco, are not yet fully trusted. Innovations do have a place in the market, but progress is slow.
Broccoli is a growing product in Mexico. There is a lot of competition domestically, and also from the US. It is available both whole and cut. Mexico exports also widely to the US and Canada. There are several companies that are recording growth in this segment. New mixes and combinations are also being launched and it is expected that the market will continue to grow in the coming years.
The cauliflower and broccoli market remains fairly stable in Israel compared to other vegetables which have not been doing as well. Broccoli is currently sold for nearly 3 Euro per kilo and, so far this year, prices have remained at a good average level of between 2.5 and 3 Euro per kilo. Cauliflower is currently sold for 1.60 Euro per kilo and the average price this year has fluctuated between 50 cents and 2 Euro per kilo. The main reason why the prices of these products are so stable is because they are grown in many regions. If there is damage caused by the weather conditions, there is always sufficient production somewhere else. In Israel, the cauliflower acreage amounts to around 2,500 hectares, and there are some 1,000 hectares of broccoli. Almost everything is intended for the domestic market. In the past, some shipments went to Russia, but due to the poor economic situation, this market is no longer attractive.
The 2015/2016 season has been very difficult in Spain. From October to May, there were large volumes available and there was a lack of balance between supply and demand, especially in the case of cauliflowers. The mild winter temperatures accelerated the production and caused some oversupply. There was more production than planned and this led to falling prices. The French production coincided with Spain's. This country also supplied large volumes in January and February and that put even more pressure on prices. In March and April, there were shortages again. In Spain, the consumption of broccoli is growing. Spain is a major exporter in Europe. Even now, when there is local production in many countries, exports continue. From June to September, the Spanish production is lower and the broccoli is then primarily intended for the domestic market, Portugal, Italy or the United Arab Emirates.
In terms of volume, Italy ranks fifth in the list of top cauliflower producers. Major growing areas include Apulia, Sicily, Campania, Calabria, Marche, Veneto and Lazio. The average production between 2010 and 2014 stood at around 400,000 tonnes. Depending on the variety, the cultivation cycle lasts between 50 and 200 days. Broccoli is mainly cultivated from August to March, but there are also earlier varieties. Given that no real winter temperatures have been recorded, there has been a decreasing consumption of both cauliflower and broccoli. Sales have been acceptable, but the market was disappointing. Eastern Europe used to be a major customer, but its domestic production is on the rise. The season in Campania was actually bad until February. In March, there suddenly was an unexpected upturn in demand, even from the Netherlands and Germany. Prices on the wholesale markets then exceeded 1 Euro. Currently, there is broccoli from Puglia on the market for 1 Euro per kilo and French cauliflower for 80 cents.
The cauliflower production in France is especially intended for the domestic market and a small part goes to Scandinavia and Ireland. At the moment, there is no production in Brittany. Summer cauliflower is currently being grown in northern France. Because of the changing weather conditions (rain and heat), the quality is not so good. Some problems are expected later this month, also in the supply. Because of the heavy rainfall, probably about 30% of the harvest has been lost. Prices are very low, around 3.90 Euro per box (6 pieces), but a price increase is expected due to the losses in the production. Growers now have to wait, although they should be able to plant again soon.
There is a relatively large supply at the moment in Belgium. Prices are low: 35-40 cents. At the beginning of the season, prices were a lot higher, but back then the supply was also lower. This also has to do with the supply from other production areas, including the northern Netherlands. It is difficult to predict how things will develop, as the weather is quite unstable. The weather has been bad for the last few weeks, with huge amounts of rainfall, especially in West Flanders. In that area, a lot of brassica plants have been affected and a drop in production is expected. It is worth noting that, in recent years, cauliflower has been losing popularity in favour of broccoli.
After a very cold spring in northern Europe and a warm winter, the cauliflower and broccoli production will run out soon in Spain and France and the Nordic production had not yet started, so there was a gap with very high prices. Since last week, however, the production has been in full swing in Northern and Central Europe and the market has collapsed. There has been plenty of supply available at cheap prices. Each country can meet its own needs and exporting is very difficult. In any case, because of the rain, hail and thunderstorms, shortages are again expected and the slightly colder weather will also quickly reduce the production, but whether prices will then go up is still a mystery.
Every week, FreshPlaza andAGF.nl publish an overview of the market situation of a product in a globalcontext. With these articles we aim to provide a view of a global market shrinkingdue to globalisation.