For Jean-Luc Dardenne, fruit producer in Meeffe, near Wasseiges, it is desolation. On September 15, he made a first picking. Today he has decided not to harvest the Jonagold apples that are still on his trees. “These are second-grade fruits here. It’s for the industry. Just the labor is more expensive than the selling price of the fruits” explains the fruit grower. “I’m not going to pick and lose money. I leave them on the trees, and they’ll fall.”
Ecology, we don’t talk about it anymore for the moment
On a personal level, it is heartbreaking. On a production area of 8 hectares, he will uproot 5.5 hectares. “It’s a magnificent crop, we’ve been working for years, we want to make a quality product with less and less spraying, zero residue, and we have to stop. And next to that, apples coming from abroad , from the end of the world, are sold here, and they are much more pulverized than ours. What’s the point? Ecology, we don’t talk about it at all for the moment.”
The cost of energy is 6 to 8000 euros per hectare more
The fruit sector is in very bad shape. At the Walloon fruit center, the director, Olivier Warnier dissects the situation. On the one hand, there is a problem related to the cost of energy: “The price of energy, today, to preserve fruit, is around 6 cents per kilo. With the increase that we are going to have, we will go to around 25 or 26 cents per kilo So it’s an increase of 20 cents per kilo for the producer.That represents approximately 6 to 8000 euros more per hectare, and currently, it is impossible to recover this supplement at the level of the sale of the fruit. “
The market is congested causing prices to fall
On the other hand, it must be noted that producers are in a hurry to sell: “To limit exorbitant energy costs, many producers try to sell their fruit directly at harvest, and as a result we have a glut in the market and a collapse in selling prices.”
Fruit growers are distraught. They are waiting for a financial breather from the Walloon Region.