Prices Dutch fresh market not tenable

Mushrooms: Poland gaining more and more ground

Representatives of mushroom growers are sounding the alarm because of the low prices. According to the CBS (Statistics Netherlands), a 250-gramme punnet of mushrooms in retail now costs less than 20 years ago. Prices were at one euro back then, now they’re around 82 cent. Besides, the Polish mushrooms are gaining increasingly more ground on the global market, and the Netherlands appears to be driven back by the Eastern European country more and more.

CBS figures show that at first a considerable decrease could be noticed in the Dutch production from 2000. The decrease became less significant from 2005. The current production area is now ten per cent smaller than in 2010, but it hasn’t decreased in the past three years. Until 2012, production grew, and it’s been fairly stable ever since. The number of companies is decreasing, but not as quickly and not to the extent of before 2012. The export of fresh mushrooms has been stable for a number of years. In the past, however, more was exported.

The Dutch export of tinned mushrooms has grown somewhat in recent years, after a considerable slump before that. The export of frozen mushrooms has been fluctuating for years, but can now be called stable again on average. Besides the Netherlands, Poland is the other major supplier of mushrooms in our part of the world. The export of Polish mushrooms is still growing. Globally, Poland is by far the most important export country, followed by the Netherlands at a distance. Within Europe, Belgium is the only other country to export fair amounts of mushrooms. On the global market for tinned mushrooms, China is the biggest and the Netherlands second, but Poland, in third place, is also on the rise on this market.

Two-thirds harvested for industry
This year, 660,000 square metres of mushrooms are grown in the Netherlands. In 2010, it was still 730,000 square metres. In 2010, it was 970,000 square metres. An enormous increase in size has occurred. Around 2000, more than 500 companies grew mushrooms. Now, 110 companies are left. Of these, 20 harvest their mushrooms mechanically. These 20 companies represent more than half of the total area, and are therefore larger on average (178,500 m2) than the 90 companies that harvest manually (3,400 m2).

According to the CBS, production was around 300,000 tonnes last year, similar to the year before that. Considering the fairly stable area, there’s no reason to assume this year will be any different. Of the production, about a third is meant for the fresh market, and two-thirds is sent to the processing industry. The harvest meant for the fresh market is mostly destined for export.

80% of export to three countries
According to the CBS, 72,000 tonnes of fresh mushrooms were exported last year. The KCB (the Dutch Quality Control Bureau) calculated an amount of more than 46,000 tonnes, but in part due to the import figures from various countries, there’s no reason to assume the CBS figure is too high.

Germany is the most important buyer, but they bought less than in 2016: 22,000 tonnes as opposed to 25,000 tonnes. According to German import figures, it was more, nearly 30,000 tonnes in 2017. In the first half of this year, more could be sold in Germany.

With more than 18,000 tonnes, Belgium is the second buyer of fresh Dutch mushrooms. That’s more than in the two previous years, but less than in the years before that. For that matter, Belgian import statistics gives a lower figure for import from the Netherlands (2017: 13,800 tonnes). The UK is the third buyer, good for 17,000 tonnes last year. That’s slightly less than in the two previous years, but in the past it was a lot more. After the big three, there’s a bit of a gap before number four: France. Export to that country amounted to 7,600 tonnes last year, slightly less than in the two previous years. With 2,300 tonnes, Norway is also a considerable buyer of Dutch mushrooms.

The Netherlands isn’t an insignificant importer of fresh mushrooms by a long shot. In recent years, it concerned roughly 25,000 tonnes each year. Belgium, Germany and Poland are the three largest suppliers. In the first half of this year, import from Belgium has been lower while that from Poland has been larger.

Will Brexit throw a spanner in the works?
Adding together fresh and processed, the Netherlands and Poland exported practically the same amount of mushrooms last year, more than 300,000 tonnes. Three-quarters of the Polish export concerns fresh mushrooms. This number is still growing. It might have increased less significantly last year compared to previous years, but in the first half of this year, it was four per cent more than in the first half of 2017.

Germany is still the most important buyer of fresh Polish mushrooms, but if the trend of recent years continues, this spot will soon be taken by the UK. In the first half of this year, the difference was small: Germany bought 24,300 tonnes and the UK 22,400 tonnes. Over all of 2017, it was 54,100 and 47,600 tonnes, respectively. Brexit is the only thing that could stop this trend. Belarus is the third buyer of Polish product, although that trend is declining. Considerable amounts are sent to France as well (2017: 23,000 tonnes).

With the Polish export figures, the difficult thing according to various buyers is that import from Poland is supposedly (much) smaller. According to Eurostat, the Polish export of fresh mushrooms to EU countries in 2017 amounted to 194,000 tonnes. The combined import in EU countries from Poland was 135,000 tonnes according to that same source. The trade with non-EU countries show similar differences as well.

British market past its peak
The most important import country of fresh mushrooms in the world is the UK. After the record of 100,000 tonnes was nearly reached in 2014, it started declining slightly again in the following years (2017: 94,700 tonnes). In the first half of this year, import continued decreasing.

The import data of fresh mushrooms in the UK based on Eurostat differs from export data from that same source of countries that supply to the UK. Besides Poland, this is the case even more so for Ireland regarding the UK, but the other way around. Irish export to the UK was 31,000 tonnes last year, and the import of Irish product by the UK was 54,000 tonnes. The import figures from Poland are 26,000 tonnes according to British figures, but the Polish export figures show an amount of 47,600 tonnes. The difference in trade with the Netherlands is smaller.

Import in Germany declining
Germany is the second import country in the world for fresh mushrooms. Import gradually grew to 73,600 tonnes in 2017. In the first half of this year, however, import was ten per cent smaller. This was because of import from the most important supplier: Poland. Throughout 2017, 43,000 tonnes were imported from Poland. Just like the trade with the UK, the Polish figure is much higher in this case as well: 54,100 tonnes. The Netherlands is the second supplier of Germany. Last year, this concerned nearly 30,000 tonnes according to German import statistics. This was the largest amount in recent years. However, the CBS doesn’t surpass 21,900 tonnes, and the KCB doesn’t even reach 15,000 tonnes.

The US mostly imports from Canada
The US is the third import country globally. Import has gradually grown to 50,000 tonnes in the past year. With 38,000 tonnes, Canada was by far their largest supplier. Import from Mexico is falling considerably behind, although that figure has nicely grown to nearly 10,000 tonnes in the past year. The import from China might be limited in size, but rapidly grew to 2,800 tonnes in 2017. In the first half of this year, the increase from Mexico continued, but import from China declined somewhat.

For more information:
Jan Kees Boon
Fruit and Vegetable Facts 

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