“The blueberry market is perfectly fine right now. The demand is reasonable and the prices are generally acceptable. Sometimes I am afraid of the future. We have to be careful that there is not more production than demand. Extending the blueberry production is sometimes done too soon and people lose sight of planning well for selling,” says grower Frans Schrijnwerkers from Belgium. “Besides, I expect that the biggest part of the European consumption will be supplied by Poland and Spain in coming years.”
Frans and his wife Ruth Schrijnwerkers have been producing in a field of 15 hectares in the Belgian village of Gruitrode since 1990. Most of their harvest is sold via BelOrta (through mediation). The rest is sold at home and through self-harvesting, The Fresh Plaza reports.
For soft fruit, it is not easy to determine what the future holds, according to Frans. “Until now, we have had a fine year, we cannot complain. There is a good demand for local products. However, we do not need to plant 30 hectares extra in Belgium. This is the first year in which I can sell my blueberries in Belgium. The past years I had to sell to foreign countries. ‘Local’ is not always the most important quality for the clients. If some can get it cheaper somewhere else, they will get it there. For example, the early berries from Poland and Spain. We can see that they are greatly expanding their blueberry production.”
He states that the prices are generally high. “The best quality sells at 10 to 15 euro, but this is only for a few hundred kilos supply. The average price is lower, about 7 to 8 euro, which is what one pays in general. Our Dutch colleagues say that we always get ‘one euro more’, but we need that here. The cost price is higher in Belgium than in the Netherlands.”