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Jurgen De Braekeleer, Reo Veiling:

"Protected cultivation has kept raspberry quality high"

"The weather may be erratic, but the greenhouses keep producing the usual volume of delicious raspberries," is how Jurgen, Soft Fruit Product Manager at REO Veiling, framed the Belgian raspberry supply in late May.

REO-cooperators Johan Devriendt and Nancy Ostyn from Passendale, photo Marc-Pieter Devos.

He points out that, despite the changeable weather, protected cultivation has kept raspberry quality high. That, however, has not led to impulse buys, slowing sales in traditional markets. Jurgen predicts that if the weather is mild, supplies should be stable throughout the season but warns of possible oversupply in prolonged heat, which could affect market prices.

Regarding sales, he compares raspberries' brokered marketing methods - where the weather has less impact - to selling them via auction. Jurgen emphasizes that Belgian small fruit prices must improve to offset rising costs like labour and raw materials. Despite retailers' preference for local fruit, prices often do not reflect the higher production costs, which poses a challenge for the sector.

He calls for increased cooperation between both local and overseas cooperatives and traders to strengthen Belgian soft fruit's market position. De Braekeleer points to difficult pricing as a threat to raspberry plantings' expansion in Belgium, which could result in a shift to more lucrative crops if profit margins do not improve.

Nonetheless, he sees opportunities, thanks to local growers' flexibility and customization capabilities. They can bundle different berry varieties to meet various buyer demands. That offers potential for premium pricing by highlighting the local aspect to consumers.

In essence, Jurgen presents a picture of challenges and chances in the Belgian raspberry sector. He stresses the need for fair pricing and more collaboration to ensure this sector's future.

For more information:
Jurgen De Braekeleer
REO Veiling
Oostnieuwkerksesteenweg 101
8800 Roeselare - Belgiƫ
Tel. +32(0)51 23 12 11
Email: [email protected]
Email: [email protected]