Wilco van den Berg, senior specialist Market & Statistics Fresh Produce Centre, recently gave a presentation on the dynamics of the fresh produce market, with a special focus on cabbage within Western Europe. His subjects contained several key facets of this industry.

Fresh Produce Centre is an organization dedicated to representing the interests of companies in the food and vegetable sector in the Netherlands. The organization is involved in various initiatives. Wilco emphasized the critical importance of health, food safety, and social responsibility within the fresh produce sector.

An important aspect of the presentation was the overview of the Dutch market, containing import and export statistics for fresh produce. Spain, Peru, and South Africa were singled out as central countries for import, particularly in the avocado and blueberry sectors.

Cabbage production in the EU
Turning the spotlight on cabbage production, Wilco told that the European Union produces 3 billion kilograms of cabbage per year. To put this into context, he compared it to other vegetables, with tomatoes leading the pack at approximately 6 billion kilograms. Wilco highlighted the prominent cabbage producing nations in the EU, which included Poland, Germany, Romania and the Netherlands.

Wilco also delved into fresh produce consumption across European countries, stressing that there's room for growth in this realm. The World Health Organization recommends a daily intake of 400 grams of fruits and vegetables, yet the current EU average hovers around 350 grams. While progress has been made, achieving this target remains a challenge.

Promoting healthy consumption in Europe
Addressing concerns about inflation, Wilco shared survey data revealing that consumers prioritize healthy ingredients and sustainability over price when making purchasing decisions. Younger generations, notably millennials, exhibit distinct purchasing behaviors. Convenience and time-saving solutions feature prominently in their choices.

The presentation shed light on the significant role of fresh-cut vegetables in the Netherlands, with 99% of households purchasing these products. Cabbage enjoys particular prominence in Dutch cuisine, making appearances in various dishes and preparations, with sauerkraut being a traditional favorite. Pointed cabbage (whole head and fresh cut) is within the cabbage category most sold in Dutch supermarkets. Also in Germany there is a rising interest with 50 percent higher volume sales in the last five years.

Wilco: "The popularity of headed cabbage among consumers in Western Europe is rising. Versatile, all year round, a long shelf life and healthy: enough reasons to make cabbage one of your favorites!"

Supermarket trends
Wilco also discussed trends in supermarket sales, illustrating the popularity of fresh cabbage products and meal kits in Dutch supermarkets. Meal kits have experienced substantial growth in sales, reflecting their appeal to consumers.

In closing, Wilco underlined the importance of data and information for informed decision-making in the fresh produce industry. He stressed the significance of data-driven strategies and continuous market analysis to adapt to evolving consumer preferences and market trends. Finally, Wilco pointed

out the rising interest in cabbage among bloggers and home cooks across Europe, signifying a upcoming culinary trend around this versatile vegetable.