Pear producers in Belgium are struggling because of ridiculously low prices and an over-abundant supply.
The 2018 drought was the latest episode in a series of disasters (Russian embargo, late frosts, hurricanes, over-production in Europe amongst other), rendering a third of the pears grown that year unsellable.
The spring 2018 drought caused a large quantity of pears to remain too small and be of poor quality. The price per kilo is also very low. “Because of the drought, there are fewer class A pears and smaller pears are now worth less, so prices have plummeted,” explains Stijn De Roo from the Flemish Boerenbond farmer’s union.
Pears are traditionally kept in cold-storage rooms, but last year’s harvest is not keeping as well as usual. A third of the 2018 harvest will be unsellable and other fruits will be sold at a loss.
RTBF revealed on Wednesday that some fruit had been purchased for just two or three cents per kilo. Some producers have had to send trucks full of unsellable pears to the biomethanisation company Biogaz in Geer (Liège province). There, the pears will be used to produce electricity and heat.
Belgian producers are relying on the next harvest, but its quality will depend on the weather. RTBF said the Walloon Horticultural Federation warned that if nothing changes, 30% of producers will go out of business if they get no help from Europe.