The asparagus season began well, but drenched fall makes greenhouse continuation uncertain by FreshPlaza

Will Teeuwen (Teboza):

“The asparagus season began well, but drenched fall makes greenhouse continuation uncertain”

On Tuesday, January 23, the Teboza sales team harvested its first Dutch greenhouse asparagus. “Although we’re involved with asparagus all year round, this is always very special for us. These are still tiny quantities, but that will increase from today. The season should then get properly going,” begins Will Teeuwen.

“The greenhouse asparagus’ prospects look excellent. It seems the cold’s a thing of the past, and the weather’s fairly mild now, so growth will be unhindered. The first asparagus are usually reserved for distribution to greengrocers and the food service and hospitality sectors. We started supplying the retail sector around week 11.”

Submerged asparagus roots
The greenhouse crop continuation is, however, uncertain. “At this time of year, we normally have the beds ready and the foils on. But because of the wet fall, almost nothing is prepared anywhere in the Netherlands for the 2024 harvest season. We had two months of rain and couldn’t even set foot on the land. We’ll have to start preparations next week. Otherwise, the heated cultivation is at risk, too,” says Will.

“We must begin heating the asparagus in late January, early February; else it will be too late. All these weather extremes do worry me. The wet weather means the asparagus’ roots have been submerged for two months. Whether that negatively affects the number of harvested kilos per hectare remains to be seen. Growers expect it will, but we’ve never experienced such a situation, so the impact is still a genuine unknown.”

The Dutch asparagus-growing area is under some pressure. “If it’s not the number of hectares, it’s the quality coming from those hectares. The strange weather has caused many plots to deteriorate again. The Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, and Northern France have equally great challenges,” Will explains.

“Yet, in a country like Spain, where we grow green asparagus, the drought has a big influence. Actually, in no country is everything going to plan, which will undoubtedly affect the product supply,” Will expects.

In Spain, Teboza is growing quite well and should double its acreage within two years. The grower has also recently expanded considerably in Belgium to supply the local market. Last but not least, Teboza has a partner in Italy, where it sources early white asparagus from weeks 9 to 18.

More overseas demand every year
“Sales-wise, I don’t expect any obstacles this year. Rather, it will be a matter of delivering the requested volumes. A recent trend is that we’re getting fewer peak harvests and, so, less oversupply and price pressure. It should be the same this season unless we suddenly get temperatures of 25°C between April and May. But typically, it’s primarily a matter of delivering the available volumes and crop.”

“If increased supply demands extra promotions, we’ll have to consider that at that moment. Teboza is quite broadly oriented regarding marketing. Retail is our largest branch, but we’re well represented within the trade and food service, too. Plus, overseas demand increases annually. The irregular supply means there’s more interest in the Dutch product. Because we’re so widely represented, we can anticipate market demand timeously,” Will points out.

That does not mean the grower has no challenges. “Minimum wages have risen considerably. And labor accounts for more than half our kilo cost price. Few vegetable crops have such a high share. We’re thus investing heavily in other growing methods and automation to keep the cost price under control.”

“The minimum wage increase means we must pay our workers over €2 per hour more. We’re doing everything we can to make our cultivation more efficient, but we can’t do magic, so customers will have to go along with that; otherwise, costs will genuinely skyrocket,” concludes Will.

Teboza will be at Fruit Logistica, Hall 3.2 – B-22

For more information:
Teboza BV
Zandberg 14B, 5988 NW
Helden, the Netherlands
Tel.: +31 (0) 773 071 444