"The blueberry race has started again"
The Dutch blueberry season is back on track for soft fruit grower Sil Moonen. Although the cultivation in the Netherlands has grown considerably over the last decade, a change in trend is currently taking place, according to the Limburg grower. "It is ground that is planted," he affirms.
Sil himself dumped his nurseries in Germany and the northern Netherlands last year, halving his total acreage. “You can continue producing for a market that does not cover its cost price, or try to get the most out of it. I opted for the latter."
“It is still absurd that in the fruit and vegetable sector it is the buyer who determines the cost price. Before, I exported the vast majority of my fruits to the United Kingdom. Now my buyer has told me that supermarkets organize auctions that are active from March 1 to September 1. So they set a price per kilo and look for horticulturists who will accept it. I couldn't work like that, so I just thanked them."
“Last year I myself expanded my sales on the Dutch market by working with a packer, and I hope to continue to do so this year. We hope that Dutch supermarkets will cooperate well this year to promote the national berries, because although the Dutch product is much touted every year, as soon as cheaper berries are available elsewhere, they go just as easily.”
"During the last few months, the prices of red fruits have remained at a good level. Spain has had a tight supply, in large part because growers have dealt with more difficulties in obtaining water. Therefore, prices have stopped falling to dramatic levels. For its part, Poland also seems to have recorded considerable damage from night frosts. In Germany, many growers are struggling due to the increase in minimum wages, which is also forcing some growers to leave.”
“We are currently harvesting the Duke variety, the conditions of which seem good, although in the Netherlands the harvest seems to be much smaller. Last year we had a good production year, but this year I estimate that the harvest will be at least 25% lower. At the end of the season we will be able to offer concrete data”.
“The race has started again. There are about 100 producers left in the Netherlands and not all of them will make it to the finish line. On the other hand, I think that the producers who cross the finish line will enjoy a good future. After all, there aren't many left in the competition anymore”, concludes Sil.
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