Last year, high energy prices meant there was little supply from those countries' greenhouses, so supermarkets had to switch to imports from Southern Europe. How are things looking this year? We approached Colruyt Group for more insight into their supplies and strategies for the upcoming winter season.

The Colruyt Group will also have more local tomatoes grown under lights than last winter. "That's because, on the one hand, energy prices are more favorable; on the other, there was more demand from the retail sector. It struggled to source sufficient quality overseas products last winter," Colruyt Group spokesperson Paulien Kurris says.

The retail group will switch its herb and standard fruit and vegetable range to Spanish and Moroccan imports. "Only small vine or large premium tomatoes such as San Marzano or Ruby Red will still be grown under lights. Our Spar stores are the only ones that will keep on with loose and vine tomatoes grown under lights." The switch to imports need not necessarily affect prices and margins. As Pauline points out, "Everyone switches to imported products. Also, not all products can be grown under lights, which comes at a price, too."

Customers can expect a change regarding this winter's fruit and vegetable supply. Typical winter vegetables like cabbage, leeks, chicory, pumpkins, and forgotten vegetables will get more attention, and there will be fewer references in the tomato assortment.

The group uses various initiatives to create awareness among clients of the benefits of buying seasonal, local products in the winter. There are inspirational flyers to convince shoppers to include seasonal vegetables in their dishes. Weekly fresh promotions are also planned to highlight vegetables that are local or readily available at that time.