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Belgian organic grower Pieter Vandooren:

"Despite the downpour, the organic leek market remains stable, unlike the conventional one"

The Belgian organic leek market has been picking up for several weeks. That seems to be because harvesting remains problematic due to heavy rains in Flanders. "Demand always increases toward New Year, but the supply is generally lagging somewhat due to delays or problems getting the product off the fields," begins organic grower Pieter Vandooren.

The recent weeks' wetness, though, has troubled him less. "We, too, have truly been battling the elements, but, fortunately, the damage isn't too bad, relatively speaking. Many have suffered greatly, but we can still get our containers well-filled with our tracked machines. The rain, however, hasn't done the quality any good. Also, with all the mud, delivering clean leeks takes far more time and effort. That went very smoothly last month but has since slowed slightly."

"Demand-wise, the market is picking up somewhat. It was a bit quieter in October and November, but it seems to have tilted in the last two weeks. Supplies are down a little and as soon, as the temperatures plummet, demand will rise again. So, similar to other years, prices are good for the time of year again. Those were moderate for a while last year but stabilized again this year. We hope to maintain these for the rest of the season. They should, perhaps, not rise yet. That's nice to work with," Pieter says.

He says the organic leek market is, overall, somewhat stabler than that for conventional leeks. "That's primarily because we're slightly more demand-oriented. If there's no demand, we lie idle, but as soon as there's demand, we get to work. That's how we keep prices relatively stable. Those can move a bit, but it's far less than in the mainstream market. We're currently scrambling to meet demand, but later in the vacation period, it falls completely flat again. Then people are away, and sales stagnate," says Vandoorn.

"This year's competition isn't too bad, either. Last year, we had some pressure from France, but they've sent fewer leeks this year, so that's less of an issue. Also, more growers are reportedly switching back from organic to conventional. That leaves plenty of room in the market. We're actually always empty by the end. Sometimes, you don't sell well for much of the season, but towards the end of it, it suddenly rebounds. We've never been stuck with leftover product in June," Pieter, who supplies organic leeks until late May, concludes.

For more information:
Pieter Vandooren
Tel: +32 (0) 472 292 756

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