Flandria winter leeks: something for everyone

To ensure maximum customer satisfaction, you as a shopkeeper resolutely opt for Flandria leeks in a wide range of sizes, weights and packaging types. Do away with the (unfair) image of a soup vegetable, and make Flandria leeks into a hit in your store.

Leeks have long occupied a strong position in the top 5 Flandria products at the LAVA auctions. Play up their regional origins with some cool icons and the 'home-grown' label. When your customers ask if this is a Belgian product, tell them about the Flandria quality label and 'Responsibly Fresh'. Buying local produce makes customers feel good. The vegetables are fresh, with hardly any food miles under their belts, and they meet the strictest quality standards.

Quality features of Flandria winter leeks
• Dark green leaves
• Straight shape
• 'White' shaft measuring at least 15 cm
• Leaves measuring at least 20 cm
• No nodules on the white part of the stalk
• Free of damage
• Supplied either without roots but with the root plate intact
• Or with cleaned roots

Packaging: think about the intended market
Providing a proper response to demand from the market is a challenge for the LAVA auctions. When selling on the clock, the trade can select from bunches tied in twine, nets and Flandria boxes for various grades. In pre-sale, in sale by intermediation and in the case of seasonal or annual contracts, the customer can request any form of packaging that can be technically supplied: wooden crates, collapsible EPS crates, IFCO, bunches with tape, nets, trimmed leeks in various sizes, etc. In addition, in the case of seasonal or annual contracts, there is enough lead time to be able to meet special requests.

Which is the best choice of packaging for your business? Why not take your cues from the wishes of your customers or target group?
• Loose leeks (with/without roots) graded by quality and thickness (six categories) and supplied in EPS-H.
• Flat bunches, tied with twine or wire; traditional packaging in packs of >1.1 kg, >1.3 kg and >1.5 kg.
• Round bunches, tied with elastic, suitable for thinner leeks; available in bundles of >700 g, >900 g, >1 kg. Suitable for consumers looking for smaller packages.
• Round bunches, with tape and barcode; bundles of 1 kg with 3 to 5 units. Suitable for all types of clientele and for export.
• In nets: available in 3 or 5 kg. Particularly suitable for export; the nets offer extra quality protection for distant destinations.
• Collapsible crates: on request from exporters for foreign customers.

A marked preference for leeks with green parts
A consumer survey in store and on line (*) shows that the wide range of fresh leeks available (whole, trimmed, only the white part, chopped, etc.) on the domestic market matches the wishes of Belgian consumers. But what is the favourite type of offer? Belgian consumers like to see this product displayed in a 'readily recognisable' form in the shops. By far the majority prefer whole leeks with some green and part of the roots. Packs of 3 or 4 leeks tied together with tape proved very popular among those questioned. In particular, the right weight, low amount of packaging waste and ease of carrying seem to encourage customers to buy this product.

Convenience is also in demand
But trimmed leeks are also popular: the survey revealed that this product is still preferred by 20%, and chopped leeks by 3%. Where these two choices are linked to where people live, we can see a limited association between location and the choices made. After all, slightly more town dwellers prefer trimmed leeks because they produce less waste and the size fits in the fridge better.
The LAVA auctions capitalise on this demand for convenience and supply trimmed Flandria leeks (just the white part or part white and green, with few/no roots, max. 40 cm). The buyer can choose the weight and the packaging: trays, flow pack, shrink-wrap, etc.

Pride of place on the greengrocery shelf
Make this handsome product into an eye-catcher on the greengrocery shelf and give Flandria leeks the allure of a top vegetable. What a challenge for the person in charge of the greengrocery shelf!
• Set up a winter corner on the greengrocery shelves featuring ingredients for soups, stews, hotpots and stir-fries, and put Flandria leeks in pride of place!
• Create a dazzling colour palette: put the long, smooth white shafts of leeks with their fresh green leaves centre stage, and arrange some green celery to the left and some carrots to the right.
• Fan out some attractive bunches of leeks to give a striking display.
• Don't stack them, and don't have too many bundles of leeks on display.
• Store Flandria leeks in the shop at 2-3 °C and RH of 90-95%.

Surprisingly versatile even in mild temperatures!
Flandria winter leeks are surprisingly versatile and certainly have all sorts of benefits in the kitchen: they can be boiled, stewed, prepared as a gratin, and they are a staple of Oriental cookery, as well as being perfect for a quick stir-fry. Leeks are a great way of adding flavour to all sorts of dishes, and they go brilliantly with pasta. Why not suggest 'tagliatelle with leeks and ham' from the Flandria recipe book 'Hartverwarmende recepten'. Provide some recipes alongside the greengrocery shelf and give your customers some nice meal tips. Do away with that (unfair) image of a 'boring soup vegetable' and see your sales soar.

Good levels of supplies
The LAVA auctions are still expecting high levels of production: between 2 and 2.5 million kg per week in weeks 6 to 9, the perfect time for some promotional deals. Customers get the full benefit of consumer-friendly pricing.

(*) Consumer surveys in the course of 2014 carried out by the Eastern Flanders Experimental Centre for Vegetable Cultivation (PCG) and funded by REO Auction, Roeselare.

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