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Filip Lowette (BFV) responds to apple destruction controversy:

“Destroying top fruit is very last option”

The millions of kilograms of apples, which were desolately spread out over the fields of Limburg last week, mostly belonged to cultivators who are members of the BFV. BFV manager, Filip Lowette, explains that these images have to be put into perspective, and that destruction of the top fruit is the very last option of the intervention measure. “This only happens when the price is lower than the industry price, which is the case especially around picking season,” Lowette says. “When the industry price is below the intervention price, cultivators are more likely to choose intervention, and that makes sense. The industry price is then not high enough to cover the variable costs of picking.”

Others from the Belgian fruit sector responded yesterday. Please click here to read the article.

In perspective
Lowette continues: “Furthermore, you have to see it in perspective. When looking at those photographs, it seems like an enormous amount. But on the other hand: when 100,000 kilograms lie in a field somewhere, it cannot be compared to the total volume up for intervention. Fortunately, destruction has not happened often in recent years, because industry prices were often higher than intervention prices.”

As cheap as possible
Several things can be done with the top fruit taken from the market. “The idea is to organise it at the cheapest cost price possible, for the cultivator has to make some profit from the intervention money. Keeping that in mind, there are four possibilities. The first and best option is, of course, giving the fruit to charity, free of charge. This also happens, but, logistically, it cannot always be organised in order to solve the problem, for an enormous amount of kilograms are concerned during the harvesting weeks.” If the top fruit cannot be given to charity, there are other solutions. “The first is feed. This is naturally our first choice, because it costs next to nothing. But the pigs and cows cannot eat too many apples, so it is a limited solution. The second option is bringing the harvest to biogas plants, but that of course means additional costs. Besides, the capacity of biogas plants is limited, so that is also not a complete solution. All in all, we use multiple solutions, and try to use the destruction as a last resort. We want to use that means as little as possible, but sometimes there are no other possibilities.”

Other strains for new markets
Lowette expects the problem with the top fruit surplus will solve itself in due time. “Right now, it is still very difficult. The apples lying on the land now used to be sold to Russia. Additionally, we have competition from Poland, which regularly causes pressure on the industry price. We are currently in a transitional phase, in which we have to start cultivating different strains to export to new markets. That is what we are working on now.” 

For more information:
Filip Lowette
Belgische Fruitveiling
Montenakenweg 82
3800 Sint-Truiden - Belgium
+32 11 69 34 11
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