This week in Belgium, Coöperatie Hoogstraten sent out an appeal: now is the time to score with strawberries. "We hope to convince shoppers to buy extra strawberries. There are plenty of favorably-priced strawberries available. That makes it an ideal time to use extra promotions to get these top-quality strawberries moving on the market," says Michiel Vermeiren.
According to him, the large quantity of strawberries on the market is due to a combination of things. "It's not so much that our growers have planted a lot more, but volumes are converging now. That's because, among other things, other countries' large outdoor productions are also coming to the market. There's less consumption too."
All this results in the current far-too-low average price for this time of the season. "In other years, our Hoogstraten strawberries held a strong position on the Norwegian market. This year, volumes are falling back because of things like the Spanish strawberries supply lasting longer than in previous years," Michiel explains.
"Also, open-field production began early in Germany. And Eastern European countries are offering lots of strawberries there. Greece, for example, is currently sending a lot of strawberries this way that they usually send to Russia. That's creating additional volumes in this market. There are already good volumes available in the Netherlands and Belgium because of the nice weather."
"At the same time, local retailers are saying the current economic situation and high energy prices mean buying power is generally considerably lower," Michiel continues. "Consumers are reverting to fruit and vegetable staples at the expense of our strawberries."
"Our growers are thus facing a tough season which I don't see changing anytime soon either, thanks to the current circumstances. Given the increased costs, the vastly-lagging prices make things even harder for them. But as I mentioned, the strawberries are top quality, and we still hope people will enjoy Hoogstraten strawberries to the fullest with this summer weather," Michiel concludes.