Belgian producers ready to solve UK vegetable shortage if price is right
This is the message from leading Belgian fresh produce cooperative BelOrta. Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Farming Today programme on 3 March, BelOrta CEO Phillippe Appeltans said: “We hope that in the coming weeks – as the quantities of our tomatoes, aubergines and so on are increasing – we can help to solve the problem.” BelOrta produces one and a half times the total UK volume of tomato consumption. However, UK retailers will have to pay a fair price. “We have inflation, and inflation means our production and logistics costs are much higher,” said Appeltans.
The grower’s price for BelOrta’s loose round tomatoes on 1 March was around €3/kg, while its speciality tomatoes on the vine commanded €6/kg. By contrast, UK growers were paid around £1.5-1.60/kg for their loose round tomatoes, according to research by Farming Today.
Supermarket prices also differ significantly between the UK and Belgium. Sainsbury’s and Tesco sell salad tomatoes for £1.75/kg, while Belgian retailer Delhaize currently sells its standard tomatoes for around £4.66/kg, according to the BBC.