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Fruit grower Luc Bels:

"Top fruit prices in supermarkets too low, but slightly logical"

Despite the difficult market a lot of top fruit growers are just picking at the moment. "There's not much else they can do," says Luc Bels, grower and president of Veiling Haspengouw. "Many are busy at the moment and have little time to think about where the fruit is going, but there will be a moment when everyone realises. It's not even the price per se, there just isn't a market for our products. We can only hope for improvement."

Apples are also struggling
Conference are in the news a lot, but the apples are also struggling. "They may even be worse off," he says. "There is an over supply and it's really pressuring the market." The apple season has just really started. "Of course there are always some precursors on the market, but the large volumes are arriving now." He indicates that the share that isn't picked, is just a drop in the ocean. "It's a couple of hundred hectares here in Belgium, for both apples and pears. We are picking and want to do everything we can to sell it."

There are a lot of promotional offers in the retail on top fruit in Belgium. "This is going well, but it can't perform a miracle." Home sales isn't really an option. "Here in Sint-Truiden homes sales aren't regular because there are too many growers on a small surface. It does happen outside of Limburg."

Who supplies?
He finds the supermarket prices at a low level. "But what can you do about it? The retailers want to, but they're getting offers from all corners, so it's slightly logical. If the Belgians are too high, the Dutch will fill it in. And if we're both asking for too high a price, the Polish will supply. I have to say that as Belgian producers we still have a reasonably good understanding of the retail, which doesn't take away from the fact that we believe the buying price is too low at the moment. In consultation we try to convince retailers to give growers the price with which they can at least cover their costs."

Luc believes looking for new markets is necessary. "But we have to be realistic, it won't offer releif in the the short term. Of course we have to take all possible steps to sell our product and this includes looking for new sales markets. We can also try to carry out more promotions on the current markets. We have been promoting the Conference in Germany with the Netherlands since last year, and we could possibly do more with that. We have to be present wherever possible," he concludes.

For more information:
Luc Bels
Bels-Best Fruit NV
Brustem-Dorp 8
3800 Sint-Truiden - Belgium
+32 0495-549750
+32 011-692689
[email protected]
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