“The Jonagold is still the most important apple in Belgium. Despite this, growers and retailers no longer earn enough from it. The Jonagold is a firm, tasty apple but, in the past, we did go too far," says Jan Prinsen of the Belgian Fresh Food Institute.
"Too many mutations were sold as Jonagolds. There were very good varieties among these. However, there were also those that were less good. This reduced the Jonagold's overall impression. Companies are now looking for new varieties such as club varieties. But this is causing the market to become too fragmented."
"At retailers, the supply of apples is far too large. There is also too little attention being paid to presenting them really attractively. If we allow the Jonagold to evolve into a kind of club variety system, we can certainly retain 40% of the market share," Jan continues.
Jonagold apples need to be bolstered. This strengthening can be done by thinning out the mutations and responding to the need for flavor. Prinses also thinks Jonagolds must be sold primarily at auction. "In Belgium, we currently have a few major growers selling the Jonagold at auction," he says.
"However, in doing so, they actually get in each other way too much. As a result, they have created a system where they are constantly playing up against each other Sales should go through a single channel, such as auction cooperatives."
"Growers would also be able to stand stronger with regard to large retailers. We must strengthen the position of these apples in this way. Then we can make better agreements with the retail sector. Growers will also, once again, be able to get decent returns," explains Jan.
“How can we solve this? We need to move toward a kind of certification. It must be similar to that which we have in vegetables, with the Flandria label. This monitors all quality standards. We should have this for the Jonagold too. Apples that do not comply when it comes to taste, we can best sell under the name, Red Apples, no longer under the Jonagold name.
"Taste is becoming increasingly important. Growers must no longer only look at yields, but also, especially, at flavor. If we can upgrade the Jonagold anew, good Jonagolds can distinguish themselves in this fragmented apple market again."
"Growers and retailers will then, once again, be able to get good returns too. Currently, we see that retailers all want their own brand of apples. They do this because they do not make enough money with the Jonagold. They are looking for alternatives. We must find a solution that ensures that retailers once again see the value in selling more of these apples," concludes Jan.