"Netherlands: "Little to fear from German tomatoes''"

The Dutch tomato is popular in Germany, despite the fact that Germans are increasingly looking towards a future of domestic products and local crops are still very much preferred in Germany. Experts believe however, that Dutch tomatoes will keep their favourable position for quite some time.

Around 41 percent, or one in two of the Dutch export tomatoes, end up on the plate of the German consumer. Numbers obtained from the Product Board show the following; in 2005 around 296 million kilo of tomatoes were exported to Germany. In the years that followed, the total weight of export tomatoes rose every year, with the peak in 2010 of almost 337 million kilo.

The number of kilos decreased however in 2011 to less than 309 million. 'The prices were low that year', remembers Peter van der Salm (market analyst at the Horticultural Product Board). It is possible that there will be less than 309 million kilo this year. To the present day, fewer Dutch tomatoes are arriving in Germany every month in comparison to 2010, with the exception of June and July. Yet the Netherlands remain to be the largest supplier to Germany, expects Van der Salm.

New varieties and packaging

Head editor of Der Monatsschrift (a German gardening magazine), Thomas Kühlwetter, thinks that the Netherlands can still benefit in the time to come. His argument is that Germany is not as developed when it comes to tomato production.

There is some movement amongst German growers, who currently grow only five percent of the tomatoes in Germany. Kühlwetter: 'They are in search of sweeter tomato varieties, for example. Just like Dutch growers, the Germans are trying to make the tomato packaging more attractive.' The German growers are stimulated by the large interest of retailers for local products. Germans are very focussed on the local market.

Degree of self-sufficiency is low

Jochem Wolthuis, Director of the GroentenFruit Bureau, confirms that. 'Emotionally, the German consumer has a preference for tomatoes grown in Germany. Still, Germans are divided over what "local" means: one half is referring to the area within the federal limits, while the other half considers a tomato local simply because it is from Germany.' Wolthuis is not worried about this fact. He paints a similar picture as Kühlwetter: 'The degree of self-sufficiency is still extremely low in Germany.'

'A sudden explosion of the tomato acreage in Germany is what you should be worried about. Recent research shows however, that the number of greenhouse projects starting up in Germany is still minimal,' says Wolthuis. 'I do not expect competition from the Germans in the next ten year period, and I foresee no major competition for a long while.'

Source: tomaatmagazine.wordpress.com

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