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Demand for anything that looks like a tomato

Staff writer |
A dip in Spanish tomato shipments is causing great demand for produce. There is currently a shortage of all tomato varieties, and prices are sky-rocketing, says Kees Havenaar of Frutas Luna.

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Spanish courgettes and eggplants are also reaching highs in the market. The cucumber and bell pepper prices, on the other hand, aren't good this season.

Through trading company Frutas Luna, vegetables from Almería have been sold to the European market for over six years now. Since last Monday, the tomatoes are in very short supply, Kees Havenaar says.

"We're out of them, and there is a shortage. Anything that looks like a tomato is hot." This is caused by a number of cold nights, two weeks ago.

"Before that, we had very lovely weather. In the Netherlands you go from very little to a lot of light, but here, you go from a lot to a little. You then reach a point where the plant just gives up. After a few cold nights, you notice that immediately. We'll see the effects of that for some time. The tomatoes don't quite achieve their colour."

It's the first upswing after a difficult start to the season. That's got everything to do with the Russian boycott. The market was flooded to begin with, with the Netherlands and Spain on the market. Due to the fall of the Russian rouble, Israeli product was added to the mix as well. "Israeli vine tomatoes on the Dutch market. That had never happened before."

The bell peppers are also affected by the boycott and the rouble's rate. "Price-wise, the Israeli bell pepper is below the Spanish, and is coming to the Netherlands. The market is flooded, and it's been a lacklustre year so far. And as soon as the prices go up even just a bit, pretty soon they're too expensive again."

Courgettes and eggplants are going hand in hand. "The eggplants have been a complete drama. Now the price has finally gone up. In just two weeks, it went from 5 to 13 Euro." Supply was disappointing – there was little produce due to cold nights and little insulation. Only now that the eggplants are becoming too expensive, produce becomes available again. "Even for Europe, eggplants for 13 Euro is too much."

Finally, Havenaar talks about the cucumbers. "In October, they were very expensive for a while. Anyone who had produce then, was able to make some good money. But those were the early cucumbers, and most here were planted late. Afterwards it was disappointing, and actually it still is rather pathetic. They're only going up a bit in the final week, but we're one Euro short per kilo."

For next week, a very cold period is predicted. "It will cause prices to increase further, and I'm curious to see how January will end. Probably favourable for many products, but there isn't a lot of produce. It could make up for something, but in terms of kilos? All in all it's not a super year."

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