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BP Fruitcraft

"Belgian growers, traders should stay positive, and try our best to grow and sell tasty, healthy fruit"

"It's a late season," says BP Fruitcraft's Tim Pittevils. This company is the link between Belgian fruit and vegetables growers and importers. These include products like strawberries and cherries. "Everything has been pushed back by three weeks. Both cherries and strawberries are late." Tim says that's affected prices. In early June, there are usually so many strawberries available that prices drop. This year, these popular summer fruits were still very pricy at that time.

Tim Pittevils en Wendy Bangels van BP Fruitcraft

"Normally, we're in full strawberry production in early June. That wasn't the case this year - everything was late. The weather only turned in the last days of May. But the first three weeks of May felt like autumn. And that affects things. The cold spring resulted in too few strawberries to supply the traditional May promotions. The nice weather in late May and early June pushed up volumes, which stabilized prices."

That same nice weather also affects the demand for top fruit. "Apple and pear sales decreased all over Europe. But that should only be temporary. After a few weeks, consumers will revert to buying delicious, sweet apples and pears. We currently still have these in our cold stores. Also, don't forget we still need homegrown pears and apples for quite some time. That's because of the late season. The 2021 Conference pear harvesting isn't expected to start until September 6," explains Tim.

Demand is, however, on par; so consumer prices are high. Tim says many strawberries go to pre-agreed supermarket programs and sales promotions. BP Fruitcraft exports Belgian summer fruit mainly to France, Lithuania, Sweden, and the UK. Production has also slowed in all these countries. Scandinavia is, therefore, demanding strawberries for longer than usual.

"Their season is also delayed, so they have to buy from here for longer." For now, trade to the UK isn't problematic for BP Fruitcraft. "It's still just a relatively minor formality. The customs arrangements take more work and make things more expensive. But, for the time being, it's causing no, or little, lost time."

Good or bad?
Pittevils says they're expecting fewer early cherry varieties. That's due to the dark, cold weather conditions. "It's because of the recent weather. And the conditions while the plants were being set." There's sufficient late varieties' production. The trader, therefore, expects good grower prices for cherries at the start of the season. "We're all looking forward to the start of the delicious, large, sweet Belgian cherries. They'll be available soon."

He points out that a late season always affects summer fruit sales. It's hard to say how that will go - it could be good or bad. "It's been excellent for strawberry growers so far," Tim says. It could be less so if, at some point, large volumes enter the market at once. That could put pressure on prices. "I don't see this happening for early cherries, Not given the low volumes expected."

"For strawberries, the course the season takes could cause difficulties in that regard." Still, Tim's generally optimistic. "There's already enough negativity due to the global pandemic. As growers and traders, let's be positive. Let's do our best to grow and market tasty, healthy fruit. That will certainly be rewarded in the long run," Tim concludes.

Tim Pittevils
BP FruitCraft
Heerstraat 16A
3470 Kortenaken
W: +32(0)470 95 10 32
T: +32 (0) 470 95 79 05    

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