The 2022 season has been more challenging than the previous two for Reo Veiling. Due to the inflated energy costs, lighting and heating were used in only 10% of the greenhouses last winter.
“We may also face crop reductions and possible product shortages for our field vegetable crops next winter since farmers are switching to grain crops favoured by the current context,” said Dominiek Keersebilck, commercial manager at Reo Veiling.
Contracts for vegetables for processing have dropped by 15-20%.
“We still expect a good campaign for the second half of the year if the weather permits and the context changes,” he said.
Tomatoes (partly marketed under the Tomabel brand) account for 25% of Reo Veiling’s turnover, followed by leeks (20%), berries (9.4%), mushrooms (7.4%) and endives (8%), based on last year’s figures.
“We are working to start large-scale production of open field hydroponic leeks. The results of our experiments are positive, showing this crop is more sustainable,” Keersebilck said.
A new 3 ha hydroponic farm, pending approval, will produce about 500 tons and offer both commercial and environmental benefits. It will prevent soil fatigue, reduce pest risk and fertiliser use, allow year-round production of 5-6 cycles and help open new markets.
“Markets like Canada and Asia, which are still closed, are more likely to lift restrictions for hydroponic crops as they pose barely any sanitary risk,” he said.