Flandria courgettes are the stars of the summer

Flandria courgettes, 'home-grown' exotics, are a staple in the range of summer vegetables, and remain available into the late autumn. Interest from the trade is on the increase, partly because of the flexibility in terms of grading and packaging. Make sure your store stands out! Create a vegetable display redolent of the warm south, with courgette specialties deserving of their own place.

Top months ahead
Flandria courgettes have enjoyed a powerful boost at the LAVA auctions recently. Early and late growing cycles (under glass) have enabled producers to guarantee continuous fresh products until mid-November. Outdoor cultivation is at the mercy of the weather. A couple of warm, sunny days are enough to double the harvest. The first peak in production is due in weeks 23 to 26, with between 1.5 and 2 million units per week. July and August are the very top months, and the LAVA auctions are expecting high volumes until September. Reliable supplies are guaranteed!

Like all fresh products carrying the Flandria label and the 'Responsibly Fresh' symbol, Flandria courgettes are grown in ways that respect people and planet, by farms which focus on social responsibility. The cultivation is sustainable and adheres to good agrarian practices (GAP). Sustainable applications include the use of black film to retain heat from the ground (thereby reducing energy consumption), bees and bumble-bees for pollination and thrifty use of water and fertilisers. Crops are produced and marketed quickly, efficiently and close to the consumer.

Flandria guarantees premium quality
Retailers and consumers place importance on product quality, and Flandria guarantees that. Flandria courgettes are harvested manually and carefully handled so as not to damage the delicate fruit walls. Producers also take precautions to ensure that the courgettes do not come into contact with the soil, which guarantees an even green colour and an undamaged skin. Further Flandria quality requirements are: firmness, natural curvature and a short, fresh stalk. Uniform grading is a further plus point. The courgettes are graded during harvest for size (21/24 cm), quality and number of units per crate. The standard presentation for Flandria courgettes is loose in EPS-T (10/12 units), with a guaranteed minimum of 5 kg or 14/16 units and a guaranteed minimum of 4.5 kg on the clock.

Choice in pre-sale
The LAVA auctions react professionally to changing demands from the market. They respond flexibly to the differing requirements of F1s, wholesalers and exporters. For example, the trade wants a grading of 16 units as well as 18 per crate (5 kg) to be available. The 18/22 units 5 kg EPS-T grade is increasingly successful, leading to greater interest in this product.
The pre-sale system offers buyers noticeably more choice than block sale. This ranges from the grading of bigger courgettes to more units per pack. On demand from buyers, the growers also supply Flandria courgettes in other packaging options. For example, 5 kg with 14/18 units in alternative packaging is available in pre-sale, and products can also be supplied in 10 kg packs. Everything is organised in close collaboration between growers, auction and buyer.

Flandria Specialty Street includes a few special courgette products which retailers and shopkeepers can use to make themselves stand out from the crowd. The yellow 'Courgette jaune', a variant on the green courgette, and the round 'Courgette de Nice' help to guarantee an attractive presentation in the southern-style greengrocery department.

'Courgette jaune' is sold in packs of 10-16 units in EPS-T, while the round 'Courgette de Nice' comes in packs of 6-24 units/EPS-T with a cover sheet. 'Fleur de courgette' (the flowers of the courgette plant) are a really unique product for the trade, packed individually in EPS-T (15 units) and boxes. This niche product is supplied only to order, and by agreement with the auction's commercial service.

Tips for the shopkeeper
What is the golden rule for all fruiting vegetables? Store Flandria courgettes in a cool place at 10-15 °C and R.H. of 95-100%. Display Flandria courgettes in the original packaging. This cuts down on handling, which can damage them and lead to rotting. Never display these vegetables close to fruit, because they are sensitive to ethylene. Advise customers to keep these southern types of fruiting vegetables out of the fridge. In a cool spot, they will keep for a week.

The slimmer's friend
Courgettes are rich in fibre, vitamin A (60 µg) and vitamin C (16 mg/100 g), and also contain decent levels of calcium (30 mg) and phosphorus (23 mg). At just 28 kcal/100 g they are extremely good for the waistline.

Versatile in the kitchen
Courgettes are extremely versatile. Why not give your customers some ideas for a bit of variety in the kitchen: they can be used in southern-style stews with other exotics, stuffed with mince, as an oven-baked gratin, as a vegetable for soups, baked in slices or fried. Both green and yellow courgettes are perfect in a stir-fry, steamed or added to the barbecue. 'Courgette de Nice' and 'Fleur de courgette' are ideal for stuffing. Some tasty samples are the best way to win over your customers. This will make them want to start cooking Flandria vegetables themselves. Tell them to click on www.mijnflandria.be for some tasty courgette recipes and tips on preparation.

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