Diether Everaerts, BFV:

"Turkish cherries that may be coming to Belgium could put needless pressure on prices"

"The Belgian cherry season looks promising, quality and volume-wise," says Diether Everaerts of the Belgische Fruitveiling (BFV). "Last week's gloomy weather delayed the early Samba variety's harvesting by a week. But with the current ideal conditions, that should start between June 15 and 20."

The BFV, which works with roughly 100 cherry growers, expects around 2.5 million kgs of this fruit to be harvested this season. "Some varieties are a bit small at the moment, but after the recent rain, most varieties' sizes should be fine. Besides, that might not even be that bad for sales."

"We get plenty of Belgian wholesalers requesting size 26 cherries. Cherries are a premium product, after all, and these days, consumers are less likely to pay a lot for sizes 28, 30, and 32 cherries. These are expensive times, and the first things people save spend less on are clothes and food," Diether continues.

He thinks the Kordia variety will get going in the last week of June. "It's one of our main varieties, and the trees are full this year. We'll start with these around June 27-28. They're available until the second week of July, with the Reginas following around July 10. When it comes to volumes, there were a few more of these planted, but the trees aren't bearing as many as the Kordias." The cooperative will conclude its season with the Sweetheart variety. "I think we'll begin with these on about July 20," says Diether.

Can demand still keep up with the supply? That is challenging, Diether admits. "We have to distinguish ourselves by delivering top quality. That's how you convince clients to buy your product. We work with two fairly exclusive varieties, Kordia and Regina, which have a good name in the cherry world. Also, we're starting a week earlier than last year. Due to the weather conditions, France, Italy, and Spain are a bit later. We've already received a little demand from Spain, where this season's cherry crop isn't all that good."

"France does have 120% more this year compared to last year. But that was, of course, a disastrous year, " says Diether. He considers Turkey the biggest competition this season. "Turkey is the largest global cherry exporter, with a supply of 500 to 600 million kilograms. If the ruble depreciates, Turkey will send cherries here en masse. Greece has also started. These aren't the best cherries, but these volumes will put market prices under unnecessary pressure."


Looking ahead, Diether says the BFV has advised its growers to switch to covered cultivation as much as possible. "It's very expensive but provides the only harvest security. The cherries can color through, and then you can pick them at the right time. We also do central sorting with hydro cooling so as not to interrupt the cold chain."

"This ensures shoppers get the freshest possible product. That's important; we want to supply as uniform a product as possible. Our buyers have to be sure we can deliver the cherries effectively for the whole four to six weeks," he concludes.

For more information:
Diether Everaerts
De Belgische Fruitveiling
82 Montenakenweg
3800, Sint-Truiden, Belgium
Tel: +32 (0) 116 93 411

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