Actualidad nacional e internacionalAbr. 13, 2017
Bélgica: Consumidores pagan más por frutas y hortalizas procesadas (texto en inglés)
In a substantial report titled ‘Food for thought,’ the Flemish government had research done into the food chain in the region. The report also mentions the fruit and vegetable sector. In it, only the domestic production on the Belgian market is looked at. Import and export flows are ignored.
Belgian consumers clearly prefer fresh fruit and vegetables. About 70 per cent of expenses for fruit and vegetables was spent on fresh products. For 30 per cent of the purchases, the Belgian paid more for processed products. The spending on fruit and vegetables are only a small part of total expenses. In 2014, Belgian consumers spent an average 2.3 per cent of their total budget on fresh produce. The category makes up 15.6 per cent of expenses on food and drink.
Looking specifically at vegetables, home use has fluctuated at around 41 kilograms in recent years. Spending on fresh vegetables has increased from 83.70 in 2008 to 95.90 euro in 2015. For processed vegetables, a decreasing trend in volume is visible, both for frozen and tinned products. The expenses for frozen vegetables have decreased since 2008. Expenses for tinned product, however, remained stable.
Of all those euros spent on fresh vegetables, the largest share went to tomatoes. On average, 16.50 euro was spent on tomatoes. For that, the Belgians bought 6.2 kilograms of the greenhouse vegetable. Chicory and bell pepper completed the top three of products on which most money was spent. However, the top three looks different in volume; carrots and onions then join the tomatoes. Within the tomato category, especially vine tomatoes sell well. In recent years, specialities have also experienced a noticeable growth. The volume share of these tomatoes is at 18 per cent, and the specialities represent 36 per cent of the value. That is at the expense of loose tomatoes. Those made up half the volume in 2008, but by now, that is only one-third.
Pink Lady winning ground
On average, Belgians consume more fruit than vegetables. An average 50.1 kilograms of fresh fruit is in the shopping trolley. Tinned fruit does considerably less well, with 1.2 kilograms on average. For both categories, consumption is showing a downward trend. The volume of fresh fruit per capita decreased from 56 kilograms in 2008 to 50 kilograms in 2015. A similar trend can be seen in tinned fruit. Although the volume decreased, the Belgians spent more on fresh fruit. In 2008, the average spending was on 117.60 euro, in 2015, 12.50 euro was spent on fresh fruit.
The top three fruits bought most often consist of apples, oranges and bananas. Within the apple category, Jonagold is still the undisputed market leader, although the market share is under pressure. The apple has a share of 45 per cent in volume and 34 per cent in spending. The Pink Lady is winning ground compared to Jonagold, Golden Delicious and Granny Smith. Since 2008, Belgians are buying twice as many Pink Lady apples, bringing the market share to 12 per cent in volume. The higher price realised by this apple can be seen in the share of spending. Pink Lady takes up 22 per cent in that. The success of the apple has a negative effect on the Flemish apple sector, where this variety isn’t grown.
Flanders is the vegetable garden of Belgium
It isn’t surprising that most processing companies can be found in the regions in which many fruits and vegetables are grown. In the fields around Roeselare, many outdoor vegetables are grown, and frozen companies can be found there. In the triangle Hielt-Winge, Hoeselt and Sint-Truiden, where the fruit cultivation is concentrated, many fruit processing companies can be found. The auctions can also be found in the vicinity of these producers.
Flanders is the fruit and vegetable garden of Belgium. The region is good for 88 per cent of total vegetable sales, and for 91 per cent of the fruit sales. For the covered vegetable cultivation, that is even 99 percent. In 2015, Flanders had 5,737 fruit and vegetable companies, of which 2,309 are specialised in the fruit and vegetable cultivation. Together, these companies are good for ten per cent of the Flemish agricultural and horticultural companies. By far the largest share of the companies are active in the vegetable cultivation (64%), the remaining 36 per cent specialise in the cultivation of fruit. However, the number of companies in the sector is under pressure. In 2005, there were almost 4,000 specialised companies. In 2015, that number had almost halved.
The area of all these companies amounts to 45,548 hectares. That is about 7.5 per cent of Flanders’s total surface. The specialised companies are good for 23,107 hectares, 63 per cent of which are vegetable cultivation and 37 per cent of which are fruit cultivation. The area of these specialists shows an increasing line. In 2005, a company had almost 6 hectares on average, in 2015, that was 10 hectares.
Despite the fruit and vegetable sector only amounting to 7.5 per cent of the total agricultural area in Flanders, the sector represents 20 per cent of the value. That is 1.1 billion euro. Split even more, 683 million euro is for the cultivation of vegetables. Within that cultivation, tomatoes, leeks, mushrooms, chicory and lettuce combined are good for 59 per cent of the value. The remaining 421 million euro is for the fruit cultivation. Within that sector, apples, pears and strawberries combined are good for 87 per cent of the value.