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 Belgium retailer Carrefour for more insight into their supplies and strategies for the upcoming winter season.

At Carrefour, sourcing more from Belgium is also possible this winter. "Compared to last year, there’s indeed a greater supply of crops grown under lights," Carrefour spokesperson Florence Baekelandt states. "When the Belgian volumes or quality no longer allows for local sourcing of the full range, we switch to imports from Spain or other southern regions. At this time of year, that means getting many vegetables from there. The typically Belgian winter vegetables, though, (e.g., leeks and red, white, or savoy cabbage) remain local. Top fruit (e.g., apples and pears) are also a predominantly Belgian story."

This winter, buyers can expect certain seasonal products within the potato, fruit, and vegetable categories. Florence: "In fruit, starting in October, that's primarily apples and pears, and in the vegetables, mainly red or white cabbage, carrots, potatoes, leeks, sweet potato, lettuce, and chicory." To make customers aware of seasonal and local products in winter, Carrefour has set up various promotions and initiatives. Those include highlighting specific products in their flyers.

"Occasionally, Carrefour highlights certain fruit or vegetable families as part of so-called 'festivals.' For example, during the week of October 16, Carrefour highlighted pears during the pear festival, and from November 6, apples during the apple festival. The focus is on seasonal and, when available, local products. Carrefour, for instance, offered Belgian Charentais melons and watermelons during this summer's melon festival," says Florence.