The decrease in the area of vegetable cultivation in Belgium this year is significant, by 20%. These are provisional figures from the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. However, the decline in vegetable cultivation was confirmed by the Ingro Farmers Association.
Last year there were still more than 35,800 hectares of vegetables, this season it has decreased by 20% to 28,600 hectares. The numbers are nothing new for Ingro. The association also sees lower quantities under contract with processors among its farmers. Given the current market conditions, not much will change after this year. “There is a real need to increase prices to persuade farmers to grow vegetables again. Many farmers are choosing maize and summer grain because of the higher prices,” says Luc de Waley, director of the West Flemish Farmers Association.
He points out that the scope for price increases has to come from the supermarkets, and they seem to be moving a bit so far. This is confirmed by figures from the Belgian Statistics Office and the Dutch CBS. While Dutch prices for frozen vegetables are ten points higher than the index last year, there is no clear increase in retail prices in Belgium. He says there should be room for a price increase.
Islands are 30% smaller
Farmers choose higher stocks of summer grain or corn. These crops are also less dangerous. The biggest decline in bean cultivation. This crop is very sensitive to drought or heavy rainfall. For Brussels cabbage, the decrease in foreign exports is significant. “Container costs have risen sharply for external transportation. This leads to less demand.” After growth in 2021, the area devoted to the islands will decrease by about 30% to approximately 2,450 hectares. This crop is under pressure due to difficult prices and difficult harvest conditions last year.
De Waele does not recognize the drop in demand for industrial vegetables due to the large Belgian freeze. It is not clear where these factories get the raw materials from. “The same trend of shrinkage of this crop is in fact evident also in the Netherlands to Spain.”
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