The Belgian leek season is genuinely reaching its end. Unlike last year, this season was characterized by good prices for both traders and growers, something Calsa's Pol Dendauw of Calsa does not see changing in these last weeks. "There will be some refrigerated leeks over for a week or two, and then it's over. These are still going for around €1.20 at auction, which are great prices for producers," he says.
"Still, you must find the right buyers for the older refrigerated leeks. Their quality is good as long as they stay neatly at one or 2°C. As soon as they remain on store shelves a little longer, they, for example, quickly go yellow. In May, we still sell for the fresh market, but as soon as it's June, that becomes tough, quality-wise. So, some of these leeks only go to the fresh market if customers can sell them quickly. Most go to processors."
There are some new Belgian leeks on the market already, says Pol. "But those quantities are so low, it's not interesting for us. We only export and have no local clients, and the new leeks are too expensive to compete in the export market. Most of our buyers are in France and Spain, and those countries have new leeks earlier than Belgium. There are huge volumes of new leeks coming in from areas in the south of Spain, such as Cadiz. We shouldn't even try sending Belgian there," he explains.
"Things will slowly quieten down until the new crop arrives in mid-July. Exports will only pick up properly after August 15." Until then, this Belgian exporter will be busy with products like greenhouse vegetables. "We mostly sell that and top fruit now. Top fruit is reaching its end too, but there's still demand. We can still export bell peppers, eggplants, and tomatoes for a while, and these Belgian products are noticeably well represented in the market," Pol concludes.