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Ruud Zwinkels and Danitsja Mulder, EFP International:

"Trade is being pulled to all sides; bell peppers cost more than green asparagus"

In Europe, greenhouse vegetable prices are reaching great heights. "Unbelievably, bell peppers currently cost more than green asparagus. Wednesday, Feb. 15, bell pepper prices even broke through the magic €30 mark. Monday, Feb. 13, that was still €25 to €26," says Ruud Zwinkels of EFP International in the Netherlands.

"But, what's extraordinary is that these high prices apply to the entire vegetable assortment. Usually, you can find alternatives, but now there are minimal tomato supplies from Morocco, Spain, and the Canary Islands. Plus, there was no lit winter cultivation in the Netherlands. That's the catalyst."

"Round tomatoes are selling for €14, cherry tomatoes are reaching €20, and shakers are priced at between €22 and €23. And just under €24 is being paid for yellow cherry tomatoes (9x250 grams). Eggplants and cucumbers are expensive, too. I actually can't name a cheap product," Ruud admits.

"Every day, you wonder how high these prices will go. Yet, despite that, sales continue pretty well. Everyone's in the same boat," adds his colleague Danitsja Mulder. "We have twice daily commercial meetings with the buying and selling team. There we always go through the products that are under pressure. That's presently a very short list."

"Much of the trade coming in is already pre-sold or is just entered into the system; then, it's sold. We're getting orders for volumes we'd normally be happy to fill, but we now lack products. Customers also switch easily between products. If there are no cherry tomatoes, they take plum cherry tomatoes without hesitation. We just have to wait a little longer; then, we can substitute potatoes for strawberries," Danitsja jokes.

A part of the EPP buying and selling team.

"Last week, severe weather meant many ships were stuck in the Strait of Gibraltar. Bad weather is expected again this weekend. Also, the Sahara sands seem to be becoming an issue in Morocco again. Plus, productions are dismal. Our colleagues in France say there are hardly any tomatoes on the market. Trade is, thus, being pulled to all sides, and the usual lines are disrupted."

"Because of the shortages, retailers are buying plenty on the day trade. Usually, there's an occasional week with high prices, but now, the high price situation has continued for a couple of weeks. I also expect sky-high prices until at least the month's end. However, night temperatures in the southern countries are finally rising slightly, and they're getting a little more sunlight. So, production should start increasing somewhat," Danitsja concludes.

For more information:
Danitsja Mulder/Ruud Zwinkels 
EFP International
451 ABC Westland
2685 DE, Poeldijk, NL

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