It's day-fresh harvesting of parsnips makes the Dutch company Teeuwen Telers unique. "We do this from July to early May. We don't put anything in storage," begins Geert Teeuwen, who runs the cultivation company of more than 100 hectares with his brother. Next week, they will sow the very first parsnips, to be harvested in July. The parsnip season is going satisfactorily. "In some places, the harvest has been disappointing, but for us, it's been better than expected. The drier the year, the better for us."
Geert is pleased with sales too. "Demand's quite good. We mainly supply Dutch and Belgian supermarkets. Dutch growers don't regularly supply to Germany but can fill that market's gaps. Not all supermarkets have conventional parsnips in their assortment; almost all carry the organic variety. We're, however, selling more of these products for use in fresh packs. That category's growing, but because of the specific requirements, it isn't the easiest to supply," he admits.
Parsnips in pulp packaging.
Teeuwen has been growing parsnips since 2007 but has been cultivating radishes since the early 1990s. "That's also gone well."
"Although there could be a bit more growth there. You don't sell loose radishes as much in the Netherlands," Geert says.
"It could be a nice product for Dutch and overseas processors. Dutch fruit and vegetable exporters can get away with these root vegetables more easily than with parsnips."
Geert used to occasionally buy organic products to package and process, but in recent years he has chosen to fill in conventional cultivation as responsibly and sustainably as possible. "The organic market is largely filled," says the grower.
"If you want to get in there, you have to start competing based on price. We'd rather be distinctive in other areas, like small packaging or unusual sizes. The nice thing about a relatively small product like parsnips is that prices don't fluctuate much during the season. But what has changed this year are the high costs. The 15% wage increase implemented since January 1 is particularly irksome, but everyone has to deal with that."
Red, round radishes.
"Variety-wise, there's not much movement with parsnips. We do try a lot of varieties, but there's been little improvement to the current variety package," Teeuwen explains. "With radishes, we added a green and red round variety for the first time this year. Cultivation-wise, it doesn't make much difference, but it's fun to see if it catches on in the market."
"Pioneering is in our DNA. We enjoy doing things differently and trying to find tricky crops. That has advantages and disadvantages. We don't have fellow growers to spar with; there are none in the area that grow these 'forgotten' vegetables. But that does give us a unique product, with which we can distinguish ourselves well on the market," Geert concludes.
For more information:
5988 NJ, Helden, NL
Tel: +31 (0) 627 311 025