Photo report congress day and gala dinner

Belgium: International interest in 21st Chicory Biennial

On Friday the 5th and Saturday the 6th of October the 21th Chicory Biennial took place. Belgium was the host this year and the event was organised by the VBT. The theme was "Chicory... Responsibly Fresh". The first day was organised in the Faculty Club in Leuven where various speakers spoke from 9 to 6. Almost 300 people from various countries signed up for the two days.

Chairman for the day Bart Nicolaï

The symposium was built into four content themes. In session one attention was paid to the evolution of the chicory production and trade in Europe, as well as the consumption and price formation. In session two speakers from Belgium, Germany, France, Holland and Switzerland made a SWOT-analysis of the chicory cultivation in their country. Session three was about sustainability, in particular the application of "Responsibly Fresh" in the chicory sector, the sustainable use of crop protection, saving energy in chicory companies and fermenting chicory roots to limited waste. Finally, session four dealt with the theme diversification. What possibilities are there, what place do buyers see in the shelves and what about ground chicory?

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Koenraad Debackere, managing director KU Leuven

The chairman for the day Bart Nicolaï welcomed the audience and the symposium was officially opened by Koenraad Debackere, managing director KU Leuven.

Internationale interest

Session 1: Overview of chicory cultivation in Europe

During this session Danny van Boom, (Nunhems), Sofie Lambrecht (VLAM) and Philippe Appeltans of the VBT spoke. Danny indicated that the chicory cultivation in Europe has greatly decreased in the last 10 years. He estimated that in 2022 the area would decrease by much more. The yield per hectare on the other hand increased. He says that there is a big challenge in raising the production and consumption. Sofie said in her presentation that there is also a serious decrease in consumption. It's mainly the older generation that eat chicory and the younger generation aren't enthusiastic about the taste. This is why VLAM is vouching for making chicory more hip and is doing this by action in the media and various distribution chains. The recipe book 'Chicory goes wild' ('Witloof gaat vreemd') has been published to stimulate consumption. Philippe presented that figures and showed that chicory is still in the VBT-Veilingen's top 5 products. Germany is becoming more important in chicory export. In Switzerland on the other hand, a decline is visible. This is because they are growing more there themselves. IN the future third countries will become more important in sales and, according to Philippe, this is where there are chances to sell chicory.

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The speakers of session1

Session 2: SWOT-analysis of chicory production

For Belgium, Germany, France, Holland and Switzerland a SWOT-analysis was made of the chicory production by Filip Fontaine (Coöbra), Fritz Boß (Arbeitsgemeinschaft Chicoreeproduzenten), Catherine Decourcelle (APEF), Roel Spruit (LTO) and Sebastien Pasche (Swiss&Diva). The kinds of cultivation, technical aspects of the cultivation, commercialisation and the future of chicory were discussed per country. On the whole the trend in the European countries is the same: not enough is being consumed. In Belgium chicory needs to become 'hot' again and in Germany the product needs to be promoted, as it isn't promoted at all. There has been a huge campaign in France, but this had little result. The average price in Holland is around 70 cents per kilo and this is lower than in Belgium. Roel Spruit thinks it should be placed better in supermarkets. In Switzerland the production is increasing a little, but the consumption needs a boost. At the end of this session a question was asked about the prices in Switzerland and Germany, but this wasn't answered clearly. The conclusion was that it should be promoted more, nationally and internationally.

The speakers of session 2

Session 3: Sustainability

In this session Ann De Craene (VBT), Pasquale Di Rubbo (Copa Cogeca), Claude Vanderschelden (Inagro) and Philippe Mengel (GreenWatt) spoke. They discussed sustainability. Of course, the new sustainability hall mark Responsibly Fresh was mentioned here, in which the focus in on biodiversity, low impact, food frugality and proximity.

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CopaCogeca gave an account on sustainable use of crop protection and their position in this. Inagro spoke about energy in chicory companies where a lot of energy saving measures are used, and GreenWatt presented how to limit waste. They have developed a new concept in which the problem waste is converted into profit.

Speakers of session 3

Session 4: Diversification

Ann Schenk (VCBT), Christel van Ceulebroeck (NPW), Peter Hostens (Univeg) spoke about diversification. According to Ann research shows that the wishes of catering are diverse. The consumers also has various demands from chicory. The traditional cultivation and the trendy commercialisation of chicory were presented by Christel. Univeg indicates that they think it's important to make the contact between the growers and the retailers more direct and to focus on a good relationship. This interaction presents the product in the right way and it can effectively be segmented. After the session the question of the difference in taste between ground and hydro chicory was asked. "It's the story that counts," concluded Peter Hostens from this discussion.

At the end of the symposium Fritz Boß was brought forward and announced that the 22nd Chicory Biennial will take place in Germany.

22nd Biennial in Germany!

Organised, sponsored and supported by:

Gala dinner

In the evening the visitors enjoyed a lovely Gala dinner. Of course chicory had been used in the dishes. During this dinner Geert Dejonckheere (not present), Ad Klaassen, Fritz Boß, Els Borbeels and Philippe Appeltans were honoured.

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