After a rainy summer in 2000 and carryover stocks that were hardly sufficient, the 2001 vegetables crop took a bad departure. Spring refused to take over from winter and continuous precipitation had already caused irrevocable damages to the whole European production of vegetables.

The dramatic weather conditions of this autumn amplify the losses estimated, 5 months ago, to 15 – 20% of usual tonnages. While too heavy rains especially hit northern Europe – mainly Belgium, the Netherlands and the North of France that are the 3 largest processing countries in the EU -, most of southern areas had to face outstanding variations in temperatures. A significant downturn in Eastern Europe (Poland) output is also expected and being blamed on the poor weather during the growing and harvesting period.

With such a deficient global supply industries are continuously in competition for raw material supply with the fresh markets that is offering higher, more attractive prices to the growers.

For the time being, peas, cauliflowers, spinach and carrots are the most affected harvests.

Overview of the different cultures in the main EU processing areas:

Spinach: The yield of spring-planted spinach was very low and the processed quantities are, according to the latest estimates, 15% lower than in a normal year with, in some countries such as Belgium and the Netherlands, a loss above 20%. The autumn harvest is expected to be in deficit from at least 30% with, for certain producers mainly in Belgium, a totally lost output as damaged crops remain on the fields. Germany reports losses of 10 to 15%.

Peas: Due to very late sowing activities and summer draught, the yield was very poor and processed quantities had to be cut by at least 20% with losses in some areas that are higher than 30%. Most processors also experienced difficulties in finding good quality raw material (too fast growth).

Beans: The supply of processing industries is, in general, expected to be 15% lower than scheduled with again problems linked to the quality in southern areas.

Carrots: The supply in young carrots should not exceed 85% of the processing programs. It is still too early to estimate the autumn harvest but according to industrial sources, losses of 20 to 25% can be feared.

Onions: 2001 might be the worst crop since many years with reductions down to 30%.

Cauliflowers: here again delays in the sowing activities and in the growing hindered a regular supply of processing plants that could not absorb all the quantities delivered causing a decrease in the quantities processed during the summer of 15 to 20%. The prospect for the autumn crop, which is the main one, is very gloomy with the bad weather conditions affecting not only the quantities (loss of 25 to 35%) but also the quality of the raw material.

The production in Hungary seems to be less affected but it still is below the expected volumes. However, Poland seems to be particularly suffering from insufficient volumes of raw materials aimed at processing.

These results and prospects will undoubtedly weigh on an unbalanced market that will not be counterbalanced by other processing areas from outside the EU.