In Belgium, the greenhouse vegetable season is transitioning from summer to fall. "Now that Spanish vegetables are coming on the market, people increasingly opt for these, so local produce prices are plummeting," says Barry Michiels of Gebroeders Michiels.
This Flemish wholesaler had a hectic summer with, says the trader, plenty of sales. "There's some kind of transition every year. March to late September are great months for us and then come the six lean months. Those appear to have started now because, with the Spanish supply's arrival, the prices of, say, eggplants and bell peppers fell by almost a third in a few days last week."
"The Belgian supply's still nothing but good. There aren't any more peaks, and yesterday, the bell pepper supply suddenly decreased sharply," Barry continues. Most of the company's customers are in the German wholesale markets, more and more of whom are switching to Spanish products.
"Some have already switched completely, some are waiting to see what happens, and there are combinations of the two. However, prices are falling hard. Eggplants were expensive in recent months, and bell peppers went for €2 to €2.5. That's pricey, but those prices have nosedived."
Only cucumbers are reasonably escaping the Spanish competition for now. "That should, however, change soon. In Belgium, prices are still reasonable at between €0.40 and €0.45, which satisfies both buyers and producers. How long that will last, I don't know. I've not heard much about Spanish cucumbers, but they'll follow the eggplant and bell peppers fairly quickly. They should be on the market by early October," Barry explains.
Will there be no greenhouse vegetables again this winter? "We're not assuming that. Last year was dramatic, but I think more will be cultivated this year. There will be a few more tomatoes, but not yet at pre-energy crisis levels. No one can say how much there will be, but that it will be calmer than summer is a given."
"Also, winter vegetables are on the way again: leeks, carrots, lettuce. For now, the high temperatures mean there's virtually no demand for those, but as soon as the weather turns, winter vegetable demand will rise. The combination of the two will get us through the winter just fine," Barry concludes.
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