The winter is particularly mild again this year: whether in Germany and the Netherlands, frost is absent in most areas. The producers of vegetables, especially carrots, are getting restless, says Pieter Gabriëls, the managing director of Bejo Samen LLC: "Many would like to start now. The first carrots have already been sown in the Palatinate. An onion producer has also already asked if he could start sowing already".
The mild weather can have a positive-early effect on the harvest time in the case of carrots and on the yield in the case of onions. "The overall mood is quite good, the prices in 2019 were of course, after the bad harvest in 2018, quite different from this year. The yields for onions were OK and exports are going well in Germany and the Netherlands. The carrot yields weren't great either, but they were okay, so the prices are not bad there either. This also affected Bejo: "The area under cultivation for onions and carrots has stabilized this year." As expected, the acreage for cabbage is slightly declining and the area under asparagus is increasing again this year, after there were 30% less new plantings in 2019.
There is a market-wide trend towards "colourful" vegetable varieties that serve as a unique selling point for producers and marketers. "This is a trend that can also be observed in asparagus and other vegetables."
Colourful vegetables are hot," he laughs. A mix of colours is particularly attractive at the POS. "We worked for a long time to convince retailers of the potential of colourful mixed packaging for carrots, but now you see them more and more".
There are various strategies to achieve this variety of colours: "For example, we have seeds for a colourful mix, the Rainbow F1. But there is also a producer who grows four different varieties in one field." For this process, it's important to find carrot varieties that are the same in terms of development time, because everything has to be sown and harvested at the same point. So far it is promising.
"In most cases, the different types of carrots are mixed together only during processing for the POS. You don't see the mixture as a fretted carrot yet, but in bowls it is already very popular and looks good," Gabriëls knows. However, he notes: "It is, however, important to always have a few orange carrots in the package so that the vegetables are still immediately recognized as a carrot mixture. If the orange carrots are missing, it makes it harder to sell."
At Fruit Logistica the company has two new concepts on display: "This year we are presenting our Bejo-Bowls with selected vegetables from the Bejo range at our stand", says Gabriëls. The Taste, Healthy and Purple Power flavours are included. "From Brussels sprouts to purple broccoli, everything is included."
The second highlight is the purple-sprouting broccoli "Burgundy F1" with the Redi marketing concept, including a sustainable packaging solution. "For growers, this new variety is much more efficient because, unlike other purple broccoli varieties, it can be harvested in one pass and the yield is much higher. What is interesting for the catering and retail industries is that the vegetables are sweeter and less fibrous. They are already talking to two German supermarket chains to implement the concept. At Fruit Logistica, the focus will be on this once again."
The support of the marketing concepts is an important aspect for Bejo, explains the managing director: "We are not developing the concepts completely but want to give inspiration. The final retailer can then adapt the concept to the exact needs. In this way, we help at several points in the chain to introduce innovative, sustainable products."
"A team of experts is waiting for you at Stand B-16 in Hall 1.2 to inform you about the latest market and product developments and to check with you how our concepts and varieties can offer you added value," he concludes.