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25 Belgian suppliers and a new booth at FL

Twenty-five suppliers of Belgian potatoes, fruit, vegetables and fruit trees will welcome you in Berlin at the VLAM booth at Fruit Logistica.

Belgian exporters will celebrate the success of the Flandria label, which in 20 years has evolved from a niche brand to one exporting 60 premium products.

Twenty-five suppliers of Belgian potatoes, fruit, vegetables and fruit trees will welcome you in Berlin at the VLAM booth at Fruit Logistica. Together with the auctions, they present a wide range of top quality products for the visitors. Find them in hall 6.2, stands B-04, B-05, B-06 and B-07. VLAM will be participating with a new booth concept: a bright, light structure in white, with a touch of yellow as a nod to the region of Flanders, combined with nice showcases for products. On top of the stand, modern video loops will attract our attention to the products and emphasize the benefits of Belgian products.

The companies attending are: Bel’Export, Boussier / Belfrutex, Calsa/Weiss, De Plecker – Lauwers, DBS / DBS Agro, Demargro, Devos Group, Dries Sebrechts Fruit (DSF), Frans Michiels Belgium (FMB), Gemex, Nicolaï Fruit, Pacbelimex, Vanco Belgium, Vergro and Fruithandel Wouters.

20 years of Flandria

Special attention goes to the Flandria label, which has existed for exactly 20 years. During this period, Flandria has evolved from a niche label for tomatoes and Belgian endives to one of the most important players on the European fresh market. Flandria offers more than 60 products and has a yearly produce of almost 600,000 tons. Seven potato suppliers are looking forward to meeting their customers: Bart’s Potato Company, Binst Breeding & Selection, Dauchy, De Aardappelhoeve, Pomuni, RTL Patat and Warnez. Also, two Belgian fruit tree growers will be present at the VLAM booth to show their products to an international audience: Johan Nicolaï and Carolus.

New customers for apples and pears

In 2014, Belgium produced 318,411 tons of apples and 374,325 tons of pears, an increase of 44% and 19% respectively in comparison with 2013. Since 2011, Belgian pear production has been bigger than apple production. Production of strawberries has come to 39,320 tons, up 9.5% in comparison with 2013, whereas apple exports dropped by 15% in 2014. The main export destinations were The Netherlands (24%), France (23%) and Germany (23%), followed by Russia (11%), the UK (4%) and Spain (2%). From January to August, 2015, apple exports increased by 26% compared to Jan-Aug, 2014. Their neighbouring countries remain the most important buyers: The Netherlands (26%), France (25%) and Germany (15%). Due to the boycott, exports to Russia have completely stopped, and Latvia (5%), the Czech Republic (4%) and India (3%) are the newcomers in the top 10. The year 2014 was excellent for pears, both for production (up 19%) and exports (up 34%).

For pears, Russia even remained the number 1 destination, representing a share of 23%, thanks to a very strong start of the season. The neighbouring countries followed far behind: The Netherlands (15%), France (10%) and the UK (10%). From January to August, 2015, exports of pears fell by 11% compared to Jan-Aug, 2014. This was due to the Russian boycott, which changed the distribution of the export destinations enormously. The Netherlands (16%), Lithuania (13%), Latvia (12%), France and the UK (both 11%) were the most important markets in early 2015.

Strawberry exports are rather stable and have hardly been affected by the Russian boycott . The Netherlands were the most important destination in 2014 (21%), followed by the UK (20%), France (19%) and Germany (7%). Belgian strawberries had a good start in 2015, with an increase of 31% from January to August 2015 compared to Jan-Aug 2014.

796,392 tons of premium vegetables

In 2014, Belgian growers produced 796,392 tons of vegetables for the fresh sector, an increase of 0.5% over 2013. Tomatoes are the absolute number one with production of 249,245 tons. Leeks (154,000 tons), carrots (81,000 tons), lettuces (almost 63,000 tons), Belgian endives (39,330 tons), white cabbages (31,500 tons), bell peppers (25,580 tons) and cucumbers (17,590 tons) are also the main products from the Belgian vegetable sector. Belgian exports of fresh vegetables rose in 2014 by 0.7%. Their neighbouring countries are by far the most important destinations for fresh vegetables: the French market took first place in 2014 with an export share of 40%, followed by The Netherlands (21%) and Germany (19%). From January till August, 2015, there was growth of 6% in comparison to Jan-Aug, 2014. Neighbouring countries France (38%), The Netherlands (21%) and Germany (21%) remain the top ranked and their volumes have even increased recently. Due to the boycott, exports of fresh vegetables to Russia completely fell away. This gave an opportunity to Latvia and Lithuania, two countries that gained remarkably in importance in Belgian exports of fresh vegetables.

2 million tons of potato exports

In 2014, the Belgian potato growers produced almost 3,690 million tons of potatoes (provisional data).

The Netherlands is in the lead as the most important buyer of fresh Belgian potatoes, with a share of 64%. Far behind in the list follows France (19%) and the UK (3%). The share of countries outside the EU rose to 4% in 2014. Belgian processed potatoes are also very popular abroad. In 2014, they exceeded 2 million tons of exports. Their neighbouring countries are the most important destinations, with France (23%), The Netherlands (15%) and the UK (15%) in the lead. Also outside the EU, Belgian processed potatoes are becoming more popular. In 2014, third party countries took a share of 21% of total exports. From January to August, 2015, exports increased further, mainly towards third party countries, representing growth of 32% in comparison with the same period in 2014. 

Responsibly Fresh: a collective sustainability label

The Association of Belgian Horticultural Cooperatives (VBT) has been working for a number of years with the associated auctions on a sustainability project. A new report will be published next June, 2016, to give an update on the multiple activities. The process is underpinned by companies’ concern for sustainability on the one hand and the range of labels highlighting specific subsidiary aspects of sustainability on the other. The auctions have striven from the outset to adopt a proactive, individual and collective approach. After all, the associated growers are just as diverse in their business situations as the varied crops of fruit and vegetables they produce and collectively market. This diversity means that sustainable development cannot be accommodated within a limited set of criteria, but it is the objective of a whole spread of activities. Responsibly Fresh stresses the effort made by the collective of producers involved. The auctions add their own touches too, and it is this diversity that Responsibly Fresh also seeks to take into account while at the same time concentrating on the collective results.

From the outset, Responsibly Fresh has been focusing on four themes – low impact, biodiversity, proximity and food thrift. These are topics in which the producers and auctions have already made huge efforts, and in which there is room for progress.
Low impact: Being frugal with the means of production and applying comprehensive cultivation principles.
Biodiversity: Opting for varied cultivation and supporting scientific research into new varieties and growing techniques.
Proximity: The structure of the marketing cooperatives ensures a short, integrated chain, resulting in transparent pricing for producers, one-stop shopping for distributors and affordable quality for consumers.
Food thrift: Implementing tried and tested storage techniques, customer oriented portions and continuous anticipation of market demand. „


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BFV a world leader with Sweet Sensations

bfv apples

Belgium’s leading fruit organisation diversifies with exclusive varieties and premium berries.

The world’s largest pear organisation, with 125,000 tons of conference pears marketed, also distinguishes itself at the upper end of the apple segment with exclusive varieties. BFV’s Joly Red, Belgica, Jonaplus and Truval Classic apples are making waves among retail customers in Europe and further abroad. The sweet and attractive Joly Red apple was introduced for the second year with 1,400 tons and the highest expectations. “Our production potential for 2016 is situated between 3,000 and 4,000 tons,” said Belgian Fruit Veiling CEO Filip Lowette. “We now see its market potential and are very confident in the future due to the very good response from retail chains,” he said. “We also see rising interest in some new markets, such as in Asia, for the Belgica apple variety.” Belgica is an early autumn variety, bicolour between Elstar and Gala, but sweeter than Elstar and with more character than Gala. Red Love, in the cooking segment, is another distinctive variety and appreciated for its exclusive red flesh, firmness and higher acidity. Jonagold and Jonagored, however, remain BFV’s main apple varieties, with 50,000 tons marketed from origin.

Increasing success with cherries and berries

The success of the bicolour pear Sweet Sensation is confirmed by the short marketing period ending before the end of the year with high prices. About 1,700 tons were marketed this season and BFV expects production to double this year.

But BFV has also become a benchmark in redcurrants, being the largest Belgian organisation providing this berry over a long period. “We market our premium fruit for 7 months, from June until December, thanks to advanced storage in modified atmosphere.” The cooperative seldom has volumes available until the end of the year, due to its extra quality. This fruit is sold in the domestic market, as well as in France, Germany, Spain and Italy. BFV is also having increasing success with cherries thanks to the plantation of new varieties and a 50% production increase this season. Kordia, Regina and Sweet-Heart are the main cherry varieties offered, with a record production of 1,500 tons in 2015. All the fruit is electronically graded and hydro-cooled, which allows a shelf life of up to three weeks, and sold in attractive and micro-perforated bags. “We had a good experience with 5kg bag cherries,” Lowette said. All the plantations are net protected, in order to guaranty the quality and the continuity of the supply.

About 3,500 tons of strawberries were also being marketed this season, from March to December, with both open field and greenhouse cultivation. Portola and Charlotte are the main varieties grown in the field, followed by Elsanta, Sonata and Clery in greenhouse. BFV also increased its production of strawberries during summer. Doyenné du Comice is the first pear variety produced in the season, available in large quantities of 3,000-4,000 tons. “Our pears have a very nice skin finish, with clear colour,” Lowette said.

A record year of 230,000 tons, with full safety

It’s a record season for BFV, quality and quantity-wise, with more than 230,000 tons marketed: 125,000 tons of pears, 95,000 of apples and 10,000 of summer fruit. The new 2015 harvest registers exceptional taste and very high sugar levels of 13.5–14ºC. “Both European and Asian customers are very concerned about taste,” Lowette said. The highest quality level and attractive prices help make the cooperative competitive overseas, in China and India in particular. The cooperative supplies the wholesale markets of the largest cities, such as Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Cochin and Bangalore.

The auction remains its dominant sales tool, covering 70-80% of its pear volumes and 50% for apples. The variety ‘clubs’ are all sold under programme. “We have renewed all our food safety certificates, at a high level,” Lowette said. The cooperative complies with BRC, IFS, GLOBALG.A.P., and QS. Its member farms together span close to 6,500 ha of fruit plantations, accounting for about half of all Belgium’s fruit production. 


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Colruyt expands Cru fresh market concept

'Cru' means 'raw', and when launching the concept last year, Colruyt said it symbolises simplicity and pure essence. The first store was opened in a farmhouse in Overijse, in Flanders.

Cru, Colruyt Group’s fresh market format, has just marked its first year with news of another store opening, in Wijnegem, in the Belgian province of Antwerp, in the spring of 2016.

‘Cru’ means ‘raw’, and when launching the concept last year, Colruyt said it symbolises simplicity and pure essence. The first store was opened in a farmhouse in Overijse, in Flanders.

“Cru is a new concept for and by people with a passion for good food, pure flavours, and authentic quality products,” Colruyt said in a press release.

Cru wishes to connect customers, partners and employees and to offer an exclusive selection of fresh products in a market setting, offering among other things meat, fish, freshly baked bread, vegetables and fruit, as well as cheese, wine, home-roasted coffee, home-made dishes and flowers.”

Colruyt has also said that Cru combines a love for authenticity with convenience and contemporary technology, such as self-scanning, fast check-in and the option for mobile payment. The idea is to “provide the experience of an actual market where the customer has the time and the space to wander around, be surprised, to taste and make contact. The Cru market unifies the vegetables and fruit, bread, meat, packed meat, poultry, fish, cheese and dairy sectors as well as home-made dishes, beverages and flowers.”

“Cru also wishes to offer relevant convenience, from semi-prepared (such as cleaned and blanched vegetables) to ready-to-eat home-made dishes.”

The Cru outlet in Wijnegem, in Axel Vervoordt’s Kanaal Project, is planned for the spring of 2016.

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The Belgian port of Antwerp is headed for a record year

Antwerp Port Authority reports steady growth in the volume of container freight (up 8.0% in TEU and 5.4% in tonnage) and of liquid bulk (up 7.9%).

The port of Antwerp is on track to close 2015 with a total volume of 200 million tons of freight handled after hitting 156.5 million tons in the first nine months of this year, up 5.5% on the same period last year.

In a press release, the Antwerp Port Authority also said there has also been steady growth in the volume of container freight (up 8.0% in TEU and 5.4% in tonnage) and of liquid bulk (up 7.9%).

source: Port of Antwerp

Containers and breakbulk

Expressed in TEU (twenty-foot equivalent units, i.e. standard containers) the port’s container volume was 7.26 million TEU for January-September, 8.0% above that for the same months last year. In terms of tonnage the volume came to 85,478,483 tons (up 5.4%).

It said that despite declining volumes on trading routes to and from the Far East, in Asian trade the port managed to close the first nine months of 2015 with growth of 6.2%.

In conventional breakbulk, the port had handled 7.3 million tons by the end of September. This was a 1.8% drop in volume and something the authority said was due to “the increasing containerisation of fruit and the consequent fall in conventional handling.”

source: Port of Antwerp

Other key figures:

  • Ro/ro volume: up 2.5% to 3.46 million tons
  • Iron & steel volume: up 2.4% to 4.98 million tons
  • No. of cars handled: down 9.7% to 825,312 vehicles​
  • Liquid bulk volume: up 7.9% to 49.8 million tons
  • Oil derivatives: up 4.6% to 35.3 million tons
  • Chemicals: up 23.7% to 10.7 million tons
  • Dry bulk: up 2.4% to 10.5 million tons
  • Sand and gravel: up 27.7% to 1.26 million tons
  • Coal: up 12.8% to 1.33 million tons

Seagoing ships

A total of 10,786 seagoing ships have called at the port of Antwerp in the last nine months, 2.5% more than in the same period last year. The gross tonnage rose 7.7% to 271 million GT.

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Colruyt Group sees increase in citrus sales

Priorities for the Colruyt group include innovation in e-commerce, and helping consumers choose healthy and sustainable products via ‘simplicity in retail’.

Belgian retail group Colruyt reports that it gained market share in 2014/15 despite tough competition. In Belgium, where the retailer competes with the hard discounters Aldi and Lidl as well as Carrefour and Delhaize, it says its market share rose to 31% based on revenue from its store concepts Colruyt Lowest Prices, Spar and OKay. (The group is to focus its expansion efforts even more on OKay, its proximity store concept.)

Colruyt Group also managed to keep its operating margins stable in 2014/2015, with a gross margin of 24.9% of revenue and EBIT margin of 5.6% of revenue. In what it described in its 2014/15 annual report as a “challenging market environment”, its reported revenue grew 3.1% to €8.9 billion. “Due to the pressure on the sales prices, the volume growth was not fully reflected in revenue growth. Price pressure was brought about by price deflation, competition and the consumer trend towards cheaper products,” it said. The group’s net profit was weighed down to €331 million after recording a fine of €31.6 million imposed by the Belgian Competition Authority.

Wholesale & Foodservice

Colruyt’s wholesale and foodservice segment accounted for 17.1% of its consolidated revenue. Revenue from these activities rose 3.5% on last year to €1.5 billion. The wholesale segment includes deliveries to independent storekeepers in Belgium (Retail Partners Colruyt Group) and France (Coccinelle, CocciMarket and Panier Sympa). Wholesale revenue declined slightly (-0.5%) due to food price deflation.

source: Colruyt Group 2014/2015 annual report

Managing complexity to offer simplicity

“Our stores and wholesale activities in Belgium, France and Luxembourg continue to operate in an environment with fierce price competition and low consumer confidence,” Colruyt said in the report. One of its strategies in light of this is ‘Simplicity in Retail’. “Offering simplicity means, for example, helping consumers to make healthy and sustainable choices. This is why we continue to work on the quality and nutritional value of our own brand products, and on a more sustainable range of fish products and better working conditions at our suppliers and partners in risk countries,” it said.

“In order to be able to offer simplicity, we are also focusing on innovation. This is why we are targeting retail solutions in the e-commerce market and why we are the first Belgian distributor to make mobile payments possible in all of our web shops and stores. We are also pleased with the federal government’s plans to amend the laws governing e-commerce so that we can become a bit more competitive in relation to our neighbouring countries.”

Using audits to improve working conditions

In keeping with its commitment to improve working conditions at its suppliers and partners, Colruyt Group started carrying out regular audits in the food sector in 2013 and reports that they “do really lead to an improvement of the working conditions.” It plans to carry out at least 270 audits this year, representing an investment of over €200,000. “With this, we are well on our way to achieving our targets: all food-processing companies have to be audited at least once by June 2016 and all vegetable and fruit producers have to be audited at least once by June 2018.”

New headquarters for Retail Partners Colruyt Group

Among other highlights in the report, Colruyt said its wholesale division, Retail Partners Colruyt Group (including Spar and Alvo stores, independent Mini Markets and independent storekeepers), finalised its relocation to a new head office in Mechelen (in Antwerp province) at the end of October 2014. Two automations were also implemented in the high-tech distribution centre also located there, one in the empty goods section and another in the collection circuit for vegetables and fruit. The offices and the distribution centre have a combined surface area of 62,100 m2.

Support for Belgian pears and apples

A large-scale campaign was started at the end of August 2014 to promote the sale of Belgian pears. The Belgian pear growers had a surplus of pears due to the Russian import ban on European agricultural products. The group purchased 160 tons of pears of Belgian growers at the fruit auction. Around 550 stores of Colruyt, OKay and Spar offered the pears to their customers.

Similarly, Colruyt and OKay supported Belgian growers of Jonagold apples with a short-term campaign at the start of November last year. “Due to the abundant harvest and export problems with Russia, the Belgian apple growers were faced with a surplus. Colruyt and OKay offered pure pressed apple juice made from 100% Belgian Jonagold apples. The apple juice was sold under the own brand Boni Selection. Each store was supplied with around 500 bottles, which amounted to a total of 165.000 bottles,” according to the group’s 2014/2015 annual report.

Citrus sales at Colruyt

Sales of lemons were up 25%, oranges 12% and grapefruit 6.5% in volume for the first six months of this year, compared to the same period last year according to Colruyt’s product promotion manager Tony De Bock. “In citrus fruit we sell oranges, clementine, grapefruit and lemons,” he said. Over the course of the year, Colruyt offers lemons from Spain and South Africa, and oranges from the following countries: Spain (for eating and juicing), South Africa (for eating and juicing), Italy (“blood” oranges), Morocco (for juicing) and Egypt (for juicing). Clementines are sourced from Spain, Cyprus (mandora), South Africa (the Orri Club has been introduced) and grapefruit comes from the US and South Africa.

Colruyt’s product promotion manager Tony De Bock

Rise in sales of iceberg and multi-colour lettuce

In terms of lettuce sales, De Bock said the sales volume from January to June was up 3.5%, compared to the same period last year, with 75% of the lettuce grown in Belgium. “We import from Spain and Holland, but that is mainly the iceberg lettuce. We see the most positive evolution in iceberg and multi-colour lettuce,” he said.

Produce quality requirements

“Our quality requirements are always the same,” De Bock said. Colruyt requires Global G.A.P. and BRC certification.



Video about Colruyt Group’s 2014/2015 annual report

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Belgium: Flandria produce around the world

The Belgian “Taste of Europe’ fresh produce initiative with non-EU countries gets a boost in the Far East, Russia and North America.

The agenda for 2015 is jampacked. Early this year, a VLAM group booth was present at Foodex Tokyo and the CPMA in Montreal. At this year’s CPMA, VLAM mainly focused on Conference pear qualities, as the Canadian borders had just opened up for Belgian pears. Visitors to the exhibition could taste the green-bronze skinned pear at the booth and at the entrance to the fair. A ‘walking pear’ drew the attention to the stand. Moreover, interested parties could win several gadgets by simply ‘spinning the pear’. The Belgian pear-shaped chocolates, pear-shaped memo notes and linen tote bags were a great success.

“Taste of Europe” campaign around the world

To carry out the events, VLAM can access financial support from the EU. The current marketing campaign winds up at the end of 2015. A new programme with similar activities is proposed. The latest upcoming exhibitions include: – Asia Fruit Logistica (2 – 4 Sept.) in Hong Kong, along with 3 companies – World Food Moscow (14 – 17 Sept.), together with 7 export companies and representatives from the auctions – World of Perishables in Dubai ( 5 – 7 Oct.), alongside 2 export companies and auction representatives – Fresh Summit ( 24 – 25 Oct.) in Atlanta, jointly with 2 companies Naturally, apart from the ‘Taste of Europe’ programme, Fruit Logistica in Berlin and Fruit Attraction in Madrid are also on this year’s agenda. At each exhibition, a display chef entertains the audience by preparing some simple but delicious dishes with Belgian fruit and vegetables. A fresh leek soup, a Belgian endive salad or a dessert with Conference pears – enough inspiration to convince people of the taste and quality of Belgian produce. With the exception of Asia Fruit Logistica, activities will remain more or less the same for the next three years. Asia Fruit Logistica will be replaced by participation at World Food Kazakhstan. In addition to the regular schedule, an extra yearly event will be held in India.

More Belgian cabbage, cucumbers and bell peppers exported

Not counting Belgian exports of tropical fruits (as this has to do with reexports), in terms of volume Belgium mainly exports fresh tomatoes, pears, apples and carrots. Exports of these products had a good year in 2014, except for apples, with gradually dwindling export volumes. Other important Belgian exports are strawberries, cabbages, cucumbers, leek and bell peppers. In general, fresh fruit exports are decreasing slightly, due to falling apple exports and other southern fruits. Fresh vegetable exports are increasing, mainly due to rising exports of cabbages, cucumbers and bell peppers. The main export markets for fresh fruit are the European markets (92% share), with neighbouring countries in the top 3. Germany boosted its market share up to 31%, followed by the Netherlands and France. In 2014, Russia was still its fourth most important market and the Czech Republic followed suit in fifth place. Italy and Spain are becoming less important year after year for Belgian fresh fruit exports. In contrast, Eastern European markets are gradually importing more Belgian fruit, with the Czech Republic and Poland in front. Some new markets also appear on the list, such as China and India. For Belgian vegetables, it’s the same top 3 countries, but in different order. France is the most important market with a rising share of 40% in 2014, followed by the Netherlands with a steady share of 21% and Germany with 18%. Far behind these markets, the UK and Czech Republic in fourth and fifth place. Belgian exports of fresh vegetables to Russia are characterised by a downward trend and a share of only 2% in 2014. Belgian vegetables are also exported to some African markets like Senegal, Cote d’Ivoire and Congo. Nevertheless, the US, Canada and some Asian markets (e.g. Japan) also buy Belgian vegetables. These non-EU countries, however, only represent an 8% share of Belgian fresh vegetable exports.

Belgium fruit imports slightly decreasing, vegetables increasing

More than 70% of fruit imported into Belgium comes from non-EU countries, mainly tropical fruit. After these countries (Colombia, Costa Rica and Ecuador), the Netherlands, Spain and France as main European suppliers of fruit to Belgium, where shares are even increasing. For vegetables, the Netherlands and France are the main suppliers, with an 81% share in Belgian imports of vegetables. non-EU countries supplying vegetables to Belgium include Australia, New-Zealand and some African countries like Egypt, Senegal and Kenya. Main imported vegetables are carrots, onions and shallots, peas and other fresh vegetables. 


This article appeared on page 40 of the July-August 2015 edition, number 138, of Eurofresh Distribution magazine. Read more of that edition here:

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Bright future for auction sales, says BelOrta

BelOrta – Belgium’s biggest and one of the Europe’s top co-operative auctions for fresh fruit and vegetables – sees a promising future for the auction model.

BelOrta – Belgium’s biggest and one of Europe’s top co-operative auctions for fresh fruit and vegetables – sees a promising future for the auction model.

Operating simultaneously six days a week, its six computer-controlled auction clocks last year saw consolidated turnover of more than €427 million and, according to commercial manager Jo Lambrecht, provide the ideal sales method for the non-profit coop.

“Belorta strongly believes in the future of the auction model,” he told ED. “For most of our products…it’s the best and most transparent platform where the demand meets the production.”

“With it we reach more than 400 customers every day, something you could never do with any other system. You can’t make 400 phone calls to sell one box. We strongly believe this model will last,” Lambrecht said.

The auction’s versatility aids suppliers

Auction also offers the best way of handling the wide variety of qualities and calibres of different products from BelOrta’s 1,350 fruit and vegetable growers, offering more than 120 vegetables varieties and 30 fruit varieties. For all those different qualities, sizes and calibers, a customer can be found, Lambrecht said.

Another plus is that it is very protective of the coop’s producers, getting them the best possible prices in good times and giving them protection in bad ones.

“There are so many customers every day who have access to their products very easily…this creates a certain unpredictability, a certain tension in this daily fresh market which is in favour of a better pricing. It always make a difference, sometimes by just a small amount, but it does make a difference,” he said.

Big crop boosts cucumber sales

BelOrta has 358 employees and growers are its shareholders. Last year it logged consolidated profit of €1.4 million after trading more than 550 million units of fresh fruit and vegetables and expects to reach about 600 million units this year.

Its top-selling products in order of volume were tomatoes, cucumbers, pears (more than 50 million kg sold), lettuce and Belgian endives. In value they were tomatoes, Belgian endives (€110bn), strawberries, pears and cucumbers.

komkommer - Edited.jpg

This year, BelOrta’s top-selling products in value are so far tomatoes, cucumbers and Belgian endives. Cucumbers have seen an important rise, due to an increased production area in 2015, Lambrecht noted.

More than 50 types of specialty tomatoes

Lambrecht said BelOrta sees a lot of interest in innovation. As one example, in the last two years it has gone from selling 35 to 54 types of specialty tomatoes.

Other recent innovations have included the introduction of a new lettuce, the ice cos, which is a cross between an iceberg and cos romaine, plus sales of the broccoli hybrid Bimi, flower sprouts, a new packaging-concept for ready-to-eat pears and new types of berries – last year BelOrta had the Japanese honeyberry.

Success of new ‘week ahead’ sales

Last year, BelOrta launched what it refers to as long term sales – selling on the clock today for production and delivery next week – a service used by Europe’s big retailers and service providers.

Lambrecht said previously these long term sales took place by phone and with set prices. The new system uses more dynamic price information and not only helps get more produce into the market, it obtains the best possible price in that market.

Three ways to access the auction

Nearly 40% of all Belgian horticultural produce is traded via the BelOrta auction. Its headquarters are in Sint-Katelijne-Waver but it also has operational sites in Borgloon, Zellik & Kampenhout (close to Brussels).

The BelOrta auction attracts three types of customers: those on-site in the clock room, those who are in other auctions where they can simultaneously follow the BelOrta clock and other auctions in Belgium, and customers who buy online via BelOrta’s cloud-based system.

BELORTA AUCTION - Edited (1).jpg


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Special Fruit: fresh & ripe fruit from all over the world

BELGIUM ntw SPECIAL FRUIT avocado label

“Our company has been importing and re-exporting fruit and vegetables from all over the world,” reports Sarah Hellemans, Marketing and Communications head at the company Special Fruit (Belgium). “Our strong points are specialties such as berries, asparagus, exotic fruit, etc. For example, we also trade in different kinds of forgotten vegetables or exotics; there are many cookery programmes on T.V., which are a real source of inspiration to consumers who like new tastes.”The company often organizes tastings in supermarkets. “We were very successful with the Pom Wonderful programme – tasting and sales of pomegranate of this premium brand,” says Sarah. “Among our growing categories there are ready-to-eat avocados and mangos. We supply ready-to-eat fruit, which is praised by retailers and consumers alike”.
Special Fruit believes in trade as the best tool to empower people and overcome poverty. Their goals in this regard include following the BSCI – the Business Social Compliance Initiative and Fair Trading Practices and Principles.
The company owns 11,000 m2 of cold stores. Their clients are retailers, catering services and wholesalers from 28 countries in Europe, the Middle East and other parts of the world. All the products are available throughout the year, their distinctive feature being high quality. “We take great care with our Berry Fresh and Best Choice brand names, and are responsible for all the products we sell,” concludes Sarah.

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Devos increases its production and export capacities by 50%


A new bicolour pear variety called “Queens Forelle” is starting to be produced by the family company, as part of their strategy to set themselves apart and create new product niches. 
With direct exports that started 5 years ago, the Devos group continues to increase its comprehensive production, storage and packing capacities. The total operational volume for 2012 included over 10,000 tons of its own produce and 20,000 of exports. Conference pears are the top export product, with over 15,000 tons, up from 12,000 tons last season. Then there are 7,000 tons of apples, 600 tons of leeks and 150 of strawberries. All the produce is GlobalG.A.P. and HACCP certified, with full traceability from the field to the customer. Devos is also in process of BRC certification. The family company has increased its ULO cold storage capacity to 8,000 tons in total, as well as doubling its grading capacity in its new packing station to 100 tons a day.Their main export destinations are Spain (including the Canary Islands), France, Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Russia, Eastern Europe and Germany are newer, growing markets too. 90% of their own produce is branded “Numero Uno”, which has now become exemplary in Conference pears and apples from Belgium. The Devos group also stands out for the Primo apple, which is its main apple product, locally bred in Belgium and exclusively sold by the Devos Group under the “Primo” brand. “We also have several other brands in order to find the best selection for each customer,” explains Pieter Devos.

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BFV’s Jonagold marketing project


When the collaboration between the 3 Belgian auction houses on a new project to make Jonagold – the country’s main variety – no.1 in that market fell through, Belgische Fruitveiling (BFV) went ahead on its own. The auction house chose a limited selection of Jonagold mutations and divided them into 2 groups: a red group collectively known as Jonaplus and a classic two-tone TRUVAL group. The basic principle was to offer clients a product with uniform quality, colour and flavour, so BFV decided on a targeted, client-oriented approach to the market. Not only the product (the different mutations) but also a uniform quality level would be matched to the market segment being supplied. Any fruit that did not meet the quality requirements would be rejected out of hand. The segmentation has a double purpose: to adopt a client-oriented approach and to achieve better prices for the growers. It will be accompanied by cost-cutting and by optimizing the sorting and loading operations, which will be systematically geared to improving the match between supply and demand depending on the level of stocks. The choice of mutations is based on a realistic definition of BFV’s surface area and on their bright prospects, as the future depends on them. The new red mutations – Marnica, Vivista and Boerekamp – make up the ‘Jonaplus’ brand. The red and green two-colour mutations – King, Novajo and Jonagold 2000 – make up the TRUVALClassic group. The BFV auction house is convinced that considering all Jonagold’s positive features, this approach can improve its marketing. Each of the two groups has its own specific, recognizable parameters, which are not confined to the choice of mutations but also include specifications about how each module is grown, stored, sorted and packed. BFV has also designed new packaging that makes the two modules easy to identify. In addition, each pack bears a QR (Quick Response) code that links smartphones directly to the website created specifically for that module. The websites provide information on the product and the brand philosophy.