The clocks are back to daylight savings and the first frost has been and gone. Time to serve winter vegetables such as leeks, sprouts or cabbage. But did you know that West Flanders strawberries are still available? REO Auction sold its 10 millionth box of half a kilogram of strawberries on Monday, and with it, exceeded the cap of 5 million kilograms of strawberries per year. The 10 millionth box was sold under the quality label Tomabel by REO producer Dominiek De Four from Dentergem.
"The new record was somewhat expected," says Rik Decadt, director of production of the REO Auction. "Due to the relatively cold spring the strawberry season of 2015 got going more slowly than last year. Despite this delayed start to the season the volumes supplied soon spoke to the imagination. In the period around Mother's Day the nightly temperatures had gone up enough and there was more daylight compared to the start of the year. Due to this over 80,000 kilogrammes of strawberries were supplied to the REO Auction on peak days in May."
Last year the REO Auction received more than double the amount of strawberries grown domestically compared to ten years ago. The REO Auction noted a global supply figure of 4.58 million kilogrammes of strawberries in 2014 against 2.2 million kilogrammes in 2001. As far as realised turnover goes, strawberries were the fourth main product within the REO Auction's wide product assortment. "In recent years the production of strawberries in West Flanders grew exponentially due to a specialisation among multiple REO producers," Rik Decadt continue. "A number of REO producers switched from the cultivation of leafy crops to strawberries, among other things. There has also been an extension in area in the existing greenhouse cultivation of 5 percent. But the current REO Auction investments for storing strawberry plants is causing a positive momentum. In a REO warehouse five additional storage fridges are currently being built that will be ready to use soon. This will start the new storage season at the REO Auction with a heightened cooling capacity of up to 8 million strawberry plants. That is almost double compared to last year."
Flandria, Tomabel and Fine Fleur
The REO Auction brings its strawberries onto the market under three brand names. Flandria and Tomabel are established values. The REO Auction also introduced Fine Fleur ground strawberries last spring. "Every quality brand has its own unique characteristics that strawberry lovers appreciate. Based on a focussed market and product management from the REO Auctions fills its growers in with trade knowledge and flexibility on a lot of specific market demands. This also helps West Flanders further evolve towards a soft fruit region. This regional development was confirmed with conviction at the REO Auction on Monday by breaking the ceiling of 5 million kilogrammes of strawberries for the first time. It was certainly an historic sales day at the REO Auction," concludes Rik Decadt.