Dutch pepper growers have enjoyed a better-than-average summer as they filled the market gap when hot temperatures meant Spanish crops were often not fit for export.
The wider European pepper market, which had been suffering due to a cold, dark spring, also bounced back in August following strong demand from Japan and north America, as a result of lack of Mexican production, according to one supplier.
The news comes as the north-west European pepper season comes to an end, and suppliers look towards imports from Morocco, Spain, and Israel, amid rumours that the latter has planted around 30 per cent less peppers than last year.
Pleun van Malkenhorst, of Dutch pepper grower Rainbow Growers, said: “All in all it has not been an extremely high production year. The spring was fairly cold and dark, which means the crops start more generative in balance. The market price in Holland had been poor in early summer, but did remarkably recover in august and September.
“In Europe, Spain has suffered from very high temperatures which meant crops were really struggling to set fruit. The fruits that did make if off the plants were very poor quality, which made export virtually impossible. To this extend a couple of giant German retailers bought their product from Holland, that would normally get product from Spain.”
UK prepared salads supplier Freshtime noted the effect of hot temperatures in southern Europe on the wider salads market. Head of agronomy, Mel Miles, said: “The drought conditions in southern Europe triggered supply issues across Europe, but we were insulated from this here in the UK.
“Despite the long, hot, dry summer in Spain we will still build our programmes around a UK/Spain foundation.”
Elsewhere, a cool, wet September in the UK means is likely to put a dampener on sales and stifle production of the final baby leaf plantings as the British season comes to an end.
Van Malkenhorst, who is based at Thanet Earth, in Kent, added: “We have another eight to 10 weeks of harvest ahead of us now, which means the focus is now on keeping the crops healthy and making sure all the fruits are fully colouring up, therefore focus on growing and colouring speed in the greenhouse.”
For a full analysis of the current UK salad market, see next issue of Fresh Produce Journal, out 25 September.