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A record year at BelOrta

BelOrta’s new tagline – ‘redefining fruit & vegetables’ – expresses its mission: to redefine the standards within the fruit and vegetable landscape, says BelOrta commercial manager Jo Lambrecht.

The leading Belgian supplier will present its new tagline and a wall of innovations at Fruit Logistica.

Last year was a standout one for BelOrta. It achieved record turnover of €400 million by providing the highest quality and innovative fruit and vegetable varieties day in and day out. And it goes into this year with a new message. “From 2016, we shall add a new tagline below our company logo,” explained BelOrta commercial manager Jo Lambrecht. “This tagline, ‘redefining fruit & vegetables’, expresses our mission: to redefine the standards within the fruit and vegetable landscape,” he said. In a rapidly changing market environment, BelOrta completely re-invents itself and is always looking for a higher level in all areas of its business.
For the second time, BelOrta will have its own booth at Fruit Logistica, in hall 6.2 A-04. This year, BelOrta is adding a wall packed with its innovations from 2015 and upcoming launches for 2016. BelOrta focuses on innovation and is continually searching for consumer-desirable products and packaging, innovative growing techniques, storage systems and modernised logistics processes.
Working to improve air connections
With a 60 ha investment project around the location of the BelOrta facilities in Mechelen, BelOrta’s goal together with the Antwerp province’s authorities is to create a large logistics and agronomic park in order to include all of the supply chain activities in one single location. Direct access to the highway will be created soon to improve the road connections. Another project has been started up to facilitate daily logistic connections between the Rungis wholesale market, Brucargo (Brussels airport) and BelOrta. “BelOrta aims to increase its airfreight operations as well,” Lambrecht said. 
The widest vegetable assortment and a world of specialities
“The garden of Europe” today offers more than 150 groups of produce for retail, catering industry professionals and the food industry. Traditional varieties, organics and speciality tomatoes have been the latest 3 categories with the largest Interested to see our Wall of innovations at Fruit Logistica? Visit us in Hall 6.2 A-04 or contact us via or +32 (0)15 565 617 Focus on innovation Wide range of fruits & vegetables Experts in product, production & market knowledge 16073-EN-V2-ad Eurofresh-217×305.indd 1 12/01/16 10:23 Jo Lambrecht increase in items this season. “Several retail customers want some distinctive or sometimes even exclusive items,” Lambrecht said. 
White beans, yellow turnips, jumbo parsnips, topinambours, young ferns, black salsify, black radishes (both long and round types), as well as kale and flower sprouts are among the traditional and new variety selections to seduce both the culinary experts and ordinary consumers with more exclusive flavours and healthy selections. “Our range of kale already includes a wide selection such as green kale, purple kale and the palm variety,” explains Lambrecht. From 2016 onwards, the packaging of the Flandria tomato line will be renovated. All segments (Baron, Prince, Princess, Elite, Romared and Prunella) are getting a new fresh, even look, each with its own colour. The new style guarantees a wider recognition of Flandria tomatoes in the vegetable section.
BelOrta also offers a very large assortment of organic fruit and vegetables today, with over 60 items. Among the more successful varieties this season are the Belgian endives and greenhouse vegetables. “We will increase our organic greenhouse production significantly in 2016,” Lambrecht revealed. 
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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.

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High Flandria cucumber volumes auger well for Easter deals

fland cucum

Cucumbers have again lived up to their reputation as season openers, reports LAVA, the umbrella organisation for Belgium’s 5 most important fruit and vegetable auctions.

Friday 16 January saw the REO Auction selling the year’s first cucumbers under the Flandria label, LAVA said.

And from next month on, the cucumber season will be getting into full swing. By about week 10, the producers will already be supplying 1.5 million units. The week before Easter (week 13), large volumes – about 2.5 to 3 million units/week – should be available.

The ample supplies in March make the cucumber a perfect product for promotional deals in retailers around Easter, LAVA said. Supplies will be at their peak from May to September inclusive.

Sales system designed to ensure uniform pricing

“To bolster their position on the European market, the LAVA auctions BelOrta and REO have for some years now been selling cucumbers together on the clock. The principle behind this is to make the combined supply under the Flandria quality label available at the same time on the BelOrta clock. This means the trade can concentrate on a single clock, which ensures uniform pricing,” LAVA said.

Snack cucumber an attractive niche product

In the specialties range, the Donna Midi snack cucumber is once again available from BelOrta Auction. The quality standards and supply period are the same as for the traditional Flandria cucumbers. This specialty, with fruit weighing 150/250 g and about 15 cm long, is offered in EPS-T (20 units) on the clock. Supplies this year are set to increase slightly.


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