It is going well on the leek market. Demand is high, and there is not a surplus of supply. And, compared to the previous year, prices are at least double. "During the Christmas period, we actually experienced the same demand as we did last year. However, the prices are quite a lot better for the growers", says Pol Dendauw of the Belgian wholesaler, Calsa.
“In December, a kg of leeks was going for about EUR80 to EUR0,85. This, while on 26 December 2017, prices were fluctuating at around the EUR0,45-mark. If we look at prices halfway through December, they were at a level of roughly EUR0,35 in 2017. This year, they were between EUR0,65 and EUR0,70. That is a constant doubling of the price.”
Thanks to the good price formation in recent months, producers have already sold more leeks than usual. Prospects regarding prices also look good for the first two months of the new year. The lower volumes are partially due to the dry weather. However, these lower volumes are also a result of fewer leeks being planted for the 2018/2019 season.
This has resulted in less supply for the fresh market. "The higher prices are not only a good thing for the producers but also the trade. When farmers no longer earn anything, they stop producing - either early or late. Hard work should be rewarded. It is nice that everyone is earning their share", explains Pol.
The leeks' quality and size are good for this time of year. "We have had very little trouble with frost damage. There are also very few leeks on the market that are too big or too ripe. This is because the producers do not have to speculate about higher prices", he says.
"Last year, when the prices were low, growers did speculate. This resulted in a vicious circle. The products ripen too much, which then results in even lower prices. This is not good for anyone."
Ninety-eight percent of the leeks that Calsa trades is destined for the export market. France, Spain, Portugal, and Germany are this company's most important export countries. "The situation is the same as here in the other European countries", says Pol.
“I do think we should admit that the West Flemish product is of good quality. They are, on average, better than those in our neighboring countries. Our clients can always count on the fact that we deliver a high-quality product."
“If we look at the current situation, I think nothing will go wrong in the season. This is with regard to price formation. We will have to wait a while to see how farmers will respond. How much extra will they plant next season?"
"It is conceivable that, after a good season, there will be a renewal in the acreage expansion. We have no control over this. We are, therefore, waiting for more information about the new plantations", concludes Dendauw.