2015 was recorded as an easy year for Dutch growers of pepper, tomato and cucumber. Although the Russian products boycott, Dutch profits doubled in 2015 compared with the previous year, based on a research of the University of Wageningen, LEI. The fact that the average earnings in fruit and vegetables sector was about 274,000 euros this year, 126% more than in 2014, is mainly a coincidence. The sector had been prepared for a difficult year as Moscow, in August 2014, banned imports from the EU of a wide range of agricultural and food products including milk, meat, butter, cheese, potatoes, vegetables and fruit in retaliation for EU sanctions after Russia’s annexation of the Crimean.
According to the Office for Economic and Commercial Affairs in Hague, this could have serious economic consequences. The price of tomato, cucumber and pepper originally slumped down below cost. Some growers were forced to destroy their production, while a certain amount of vegetables was donated to food banks by the government.
The spectacular improvement in 2015 was not due solely to the entrance of farmers to new markets. They benefited mainly from the adverse weather conditions that affected their competitors in the Mediterranean region.
In Spain, the main competitor of the Netherlands, the weather was hot and dry, resulting to a poor quality of tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers. So European consumers preferred Dutch vegetables and the increase demand caused a sharp increase in price.
“The sector of Dutch horticultural fully benefited from the bad weather in countries like Spain, Italy, Israel and Morocco” mentioned Mr. Harold van der Meulen, economic researcher of LEI.
In the Netherlands, where vegetables are grown in modern climate-controlled greenhouses, the weather’s impact on cultivations is not so great. Last year the gas prices were also extremely low, so the average income could be increased to an unprecedented level, referred the LEI research. “This is not a guarantee that 2016 will be equally good year because the advantage of 2015 was by chance,” said Mr. van der Meulen. However, the analysis of ING bank indicates that Dutch farmers are able to enter into new contracts for commercial vegetables with countries such as China, India, Brazil and Vietnam.