In 2016, Belgian growers produced a total of 777,832 tons of vegetables for the fresh market.
Tomatoes (259,535 tons) are the undisputed number one. Leeks (96,000 tons), carrots (93,000 tons), Belgian endive (39,330 tons), lettuce (33,500 tons), sweet peppers (27,048 tons) white cabbage (24,000 tons) and cucumbers (23,580 tons) are the other mainstays of Belgian vegetable production
The neighbouring countries are by far the most important destinations for fresh vegetables: the French market consolidated its leading position and in 2017 represented an export share of 38%, followed by the Netherlands (24%) and Germany (19%).
Flandria at the top of the European vegetable brands
The main quality label for fresh fruit and vegetables in Belgium is Flandria. This label stands for top quality from family businesses. The Flandria label started with Belgian endive and tomatoes and nowadays covers more than 60 types of fruit and vegetables and is ever present in the fruit and veg departments in stores at home and abroad. Products with the Flandria label are grown by family businesses and have to meet the quality described in the Flandria specifications. In this way, only top-quality fruit and vegetables qualify for the label. There are requirements relating to the varieties used, external characteristics such as shape, sorting, ripeness, firmness and the absence of foreign substances. Even the cultivation itself of Flandria products is subjected to strict production conditions. For example, there are conditions relating to the choice of cultivation land, the plant matter used, fertilizer and irrigation. What is more, the grower gives precedence to biological protection methods over chemical crop protection agents.
Over recent years, the Belgian fruit and vegetable cooperatives, better known as ‘the auctions’ and their growers, have been honouring their pledges to commit themselves to sustainable development.
In 2012, VBT, along with its member marketing cooperatives and the associated growers, launched the collective sustainability project and label Responsibly Fresh. VBT itself, the marketing cooperatives and the growers each made specific commitments. The sustainability challenges in the cooperatively organised fresh fruit and vegetable sector are to be tackled collectively. This makes the collective character of Responsibly Fresh unique.
Six years down the line, this third sustainability report gives a snapshot of what we have been doing. Since the project started in 2012, the participants have made definite progress in terms of sustainable development. There have been positive developments in economic, environmental and social terms alike.Responsibly Fresh