“The pear market isn't faring well. That's mostly due to the high volumes. Belgian growers have picked about 30% more pears than last year. And because of accelerated clearing, Belgium's ruining the pear market. What Poland is to the apple market, Belgium is unfortunately to this year's pear market," says Tony Derwael of Bel'Export. "The demand for pears is normal, but prices are much lower than last year."
According to Tony, high volumes on the market are the main culprit. "It's not only a problem this year. But, it's one we'll continue to face in the future. Last year, we were lucky. Italy had a much-reduced harvest. But their yields are normal this year. So there are too many pears on the market. The solution would be to stop planting. Farmers are, however, still planting Conference trees. But tree growers are struggling to get rid of trees this year. That's because of the dismal pear market."
The Doyenné du Comice season wasn't great either, says the trader. "The market only improved toward the very end. There were many small pears this season, which didn't earn much. The large sizes sold well. But, considering the average price, it was a lean season for these pears too. Apples, however, are a completely different story. They had good demand and prices. The big winner is, of course, Poland, that's slowly conquering that market."
“Europe is always referred to as unified. But that's not always true at trade level. The market's not unified. Not by a long shot. I've always greatly advocated a free market and a united Europe," says Tony. "But, we're pulling further and further away from each other. Poles get less for their apples in one country than in another. The same goes for Belgian pears. That price gap's widening every year. It's because of the chauvinism that's rearing its head in many countries."
"More and more countries are protecting their own market. That puts pressure on producing countries like Belgium and the Netherlands. We produce much more than we can eat. So, if countries close part of their markets, we can't send our product there anymore. That has all kinds of consequences. We used to talk about national markets. But since the pandemic broke out, we now even talk about regional markets. If this trend continues, it'll have a major impact on the future," concludes Tony.