The current chicory market can be characterized as extreme. "Volumes are low, and prices are high," states Dennis Blankendaal. He is from Frysk Witlof. This chicory farm is in Sexbierum, the Netherlands. "Chicory is going for around €2 at auction at the moment. That is a tremendously high price."
"It is difficult to harvest the chicory roots at the moment. Other countries are also coming up short. For example, people from France are now phoning us for chicory earlier. Rather than being competition. There is also very little of this product in Germany. There is a limited supply of other vegetables too. More chicory is, therefore, being eaten," says Dennis.
Frysk Witlof harvests between 250 and 280 hectares worth of Belgian and Dutch chicory. This makes it the largest chicory company in the Netherlands. This cultivation business is affiliated with the Best of Four cooperative.
"Recently, there has been new chicory on the market here and there. We would rather hold on to the old chicory for a little longer. In this way, we can ensure its quality," explains the grower. "I expect the shortages to continue for a while. Prices are, however, expected to fall somewhat in the coming weeks. From week 49, we will start with red chicory again too."
"We continuously invest in optimizing chicory's cultivation and processing, as well as its packaging lines. In 2017, for instance, we built ten new forcing rooms. This year, we built 11 more," continues Dennis. The company is also very busy with new packaging solutions.
"Supermarkets simply want as little plastic as possible. I think the flow pack will be completely phased out in time. The chicory will only be offered loose. We are currently focusing on cardboard packaging. But, chicory needs to a sealed pack. So, the cardboard option has not proved successful yet."
"Supply continuity is only going to become more difficult. Certainly for our sector. There are several reasons for this. Small family businesses are on the decline. The extreme weather conditions and the reduction of pesticides are also contributing factors."
"We believe multi-layered hydroponic cultivation can solve this problem. This farming must be done in an enclosed space. This gives you better control over these future issues. We will also focus on this. We believe we are well-suited to this. We have the resources and know-how to make this feasible, too," concludes Blankendaal.