Make the difference with Flandria chicory

In late October/early November, the chicory season really gets into its stride and interest in this typical home-grown vegetable begins to increase. Growers and auctions constantly monitor the superior Flandria quality. The fact that there is 'something for everyone' is an extra selling point.

Start of the season
Flandria chicory has been in the top 5 for years at REO Auction and BelOrta Auction, the biggest chicory auctions in the LAVA group. At the start of the season, there were somewhat fewer roots, and the transition from old to new roots for forcing was faster. However, this is no problem: the LAVA auctions can guarantee the trade constant production. At the start of the new chicory season, there is already plenty of new product available. The LAVA auctions expect weekly supplies of between 1 and 1.2 million kg/week in weeks 45-48.

An attractive end product
There are no concessions made by the LAVA auctions and growers when it comes to the image of Flandria. There is a broad consensus around bringing the high-quality product to market. Aspects such as a nicely closed top, symmetrically formed heads, a flawless cut surface and uniform grading are Flandria features which growers and farm workers have to be attentive to in getting a perfect product ready to sell. Sustainability in various forms plays an important role here, under the banner of Responsibly Fresh. The quality inspectors at the auctions look very closely at product freshness, presentation and the correct sizing. Satisfying the demands of buyers and consumers remains a constant endeavour.

A short path from producer to consumer
Loose standard Flandria chicory is sold on the clock in EPS-5 kg. The options of pre-sale and intermediation are also available.
Flandria chicory can be purchased in various grades: short and thin, short and thick, thick and very short, both loose and in (small) packs: so the customer has lots of choice. The LAVA auctions are also eager to find systems to enable them to respond to new demands from the market. Product can be supplied in the buyers' own packaging and in special sizes direct in the correct packaging in order to save additional handling further down the line. The path from producer to consumer remains short in order to guarantee the Flandria quality.

New market trends
BelOrta Auction is detecting a number of striking consumer trends. The finer chicory is buoyant, even within the classic sizes. Belgian consumers buy with their eyes, and prefer a neat, even head. The small head with a slightly milder flavour (less bite) encourages people to opt for chicory. There is also an increasing market for soil-grown chicory (known as 'grondwitloof'), which is regarded as a delicacy. The 'perception' aspect is part of the equation here. Consumers who opt for 'grondwitloof' are buying not just the vegetable but the whole production story around it. The Belgian share in the production of organic chicory is also attracting more attention from the retail side. It is available all year round, and according to BelOrta it offers further growth potential.
REO Auction, a leading chicory auction, also offers pre-cut mixed salads based on chicory: chicory with lamb's lettuce and chicory with radicchio. These typical Belgian winter salads are intended to respond to the growing demand from the market for pre-cut mixed salads.

What are the best storage methods?
The best way to retain Flandria quality in the greengrocery department is to abide by these few rules:

• During the day, Flandria chicory is best kept in a refrigerated counter, in the original packaging
• Overnight, keep it covered in a cool place at 4 to 5 °C
• Flandria chicory must never be placed near products which give off ethylene, such as tomatoes, apples and kiwis
• Put just a few heads out on display, and keep the rest covered in a blue cover sheet to prevent discoloration and keep the product looking attractive

Versatile and sustainable
Flandria quality helps you stand out as a shopkeeper. In store, set up a nice chicory corner and be sure to display all the many options. Help your customers find inspiration by means of some samples: a chicory soup, some vegetable skewers with chicory, a little chicory dessert. These appetizers will definitely be reflected in your sales figures. Advise your customers which type of chicory is best for the recipe they are using. In a nutshell: surprise them with how versatile Flandria chicory is. You can use the sustainability aspect (Responsibly Fresh) as an extra selling point.

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