Vegetables will rise in price – the gas crisis hit the greenhouse industry in Europe
Rapidly rising electricity prices are forcing an extensive network of Dutch greenhouses to reduce or shut off lighting altogether, which threatens to cut supplies to grocery, fruit and flower shops in Europe. Despite its small size, the Netherlands is the second largest food exporter in the world by value, thanks in part to its highly productive greenhouses, which cover about 10,000 hectares (25,000 acres), roughly the size of Paris. …
But to heat these huge glass structures, up to 3 billion cubic meters of natural gas are used per year, or about 8.2% of the country’s total fuel consumption. The skyrocketing energy prices in Europe are having a “huge impact” on the sector, said Cindy van Ruyswick, senior analyst at Rabobank. This is forcing some manufacturers to reduce lighting, end the season ahead of time, or plan to start the season later in the spring of next year. “These are drastic measures that reduce production and yields and have serious economic implications for companies,” said industry association Glastuinbouw Nederland. “We cannot rule out that consumers will pay more for vegetables and flowers.”
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Marcel van der Lugt of Lugt Lisianthus, a flower business his family has run for a century, says prices are likely to rise after electricity bills quadruple and costs 20-25%. The producer exports flowers mainly to countries such as Russia, Germany and France.
At Lans, a Maasdeijk-based tomato producer that harvests about 40 million kg (80 million lb) of vegetables a year, the greenhouses are already darkening. Most of the crop is grown indoors, and the lamps usually turn on when the daylight dims. This year they are working 50-80%. “In the end, you’ll be producing less,” says Erwin van der Lans, Chief Operating Officer. – It’s already starting. We have now reduced our production by about 10%, and maybe by 20%. Eventually, customers will gradually start paying more. ”