More Belgian fruit and vegetables

We will continue to invest in more Belgian potatoes, vegetables, fruit and fresh herbs on our store shelves in the coming years. We want to support our Belgian farmers even more and limit the impact of transports from abroad. 

This initiative contributes to our objectives regarding

Updated on 27/07/2023

Objective: as Belgian as possible

Consumers can find a wide range of fresh potatoes, vegetables, herbs and fruit of Belgian origin in our stores. Products such as pears, chicory, leeks, tomatoes, mushrooms, strawberries and carrots are almost all Belgian when in season. This is also the case for fresh meat, dairy and eggs, almost 100% of which is sourced in Belgium all year round.

By choosing Belgian products, we guarantee our farmers a more stable sales market, which makes them less dependent on exports. We also achieve environmental gains, thanks to fewer transports from abroad and the relatively high efficiency of Belgian agriculture. 

Bags of Belgian potatoes. A lot of fresh produce is from Belgian producers

Seeking bigger volumes

We seek a larger Belgian share in potatoes, vegetables and fruit, conventionally and/or organically grown. To this end, we are setting up projects with Belgian growers to grow products for the first time (e.g. ginger), again (e.g. sweet potato) or in larger volumes (e.g. organic wheat).

We also try to extend the Belgian season where possible (e.g. potatoes). We choose varieties that do well here and provide longer high-quality harvests. This reduces the need to switch to foreign imports.

Two farmers on their potato field.  We choose varieties that yield longer, higher-quality harvests

From foreign to domestic

We switch from a foreign to a Belgian supply as soon as: 

  • the Belgian products match the quality of foreign alternatives
  • qualitative Belgian products are available even if we cannot (immediately) supply all shops
  • we find a Belgian supplier who is open to a long-term, sustainable collaboration, with guarantees for quality, price, service and availability
Workers sorting apples We invest in long-term relationships with our suppliers

Towards a 100% Belgian offer?

As much as we would like to, sourcing all our fresh fruit and vegetables from Belgium is not feasible. 

  • Exotic fruit such as bananas, citrus or mangoes cannot be grown here on a large scale.
  • In certain seasons many products are only available abroad.
  • The Belgian agricultural area is too small to grow all potatoes, vegetables and fruit for the Belgian market.
  • To spread the risk, we buy some products abroad. We also want to be able to supply our customers in years with smaller Belgian harvests.
  • Switching takes time. If, for example, we plant extra fruit trees in Belgium, it will be several years before we get the first harvest. 
Man working in vegetable greenhouse. We cannot grow all types of fruit and vegetables in Belgium

Belgian Charentais melons

The innovative cooperation with Tomeco for sustainable vertical cultivation of Belgian Charentais melons is a good example of how we can offer more Belgian vegetables and fruit as a retailer. The limited volume Charentais melons is an added value to the customers: we extend the supply by offering these very tasty melons earlier in the season.

Belgian sourcing also offers the opportunity to bring down food miles and reduce food losses by minimising time on transport. These melons can be recognised by the Belgian flag on the label which also contains a QR code with more info on the grower.

Sustainable Belgian ginger

Ginger traditionally comes mainly from China, giving it a relatively large carbon footprint. Therefore, the cooperation between Colruyt Group, REO Veiling and the Provincial Vegetable Research Centre offers many advantages:

  • A short chain is beneficial to the environment: it requires less transport and thus less CO2 emissions.
  • The grower can make optimal use of the greenhouses.
  • Using a minimum of raw materials and no pesticides and keeping energy consumption and heating costs as low as possible, this is a profitable cultivation.

As harvesting takes place when the foliage of the plant is still green, the ginger does not get a chance to harden or form a skin. Result: the ginger is even juicier and tastier
At the end of 2022, grower Bart Pynnebroeck harvested some 4 tonnes of Belgian early ginger. This was offered as fresh produce at Cru and more than 140 Okay supermarkets, and partly processed into juices, syrup and jam. In 2023, the  harvest was large enough for the fresh product to be offered in Colruyt shops throughout November.

Aiming for profitability in the chain

Together with our partners, we are now exploring ways to make ginger cultivation more sustainable. Think of selecting more profitable varieties or growing under plastic greenhouses without heating. We are also experimenting with drying ginger so that we can offer it all year round. In our cooperation models with farmers, we focus on organic cultivation, with an eye for upscaling and cost efficiency.

This initiative contributes to these sustainable development goal(s)
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