The auction system in Belgium
Number of auctions
There are 8 auctions in our country, of which 5 belong to LAVA.
- BelOrta in Sint-Katelijne-Waver (Zellik, Kampenhout and Borgloon): mixed vegetables and fruit
- REO auction in Roeselare: mixed vegetables and fruit
- Coöperatie Hoogstraten: mixed vegetables and fruit
- CLTV Zundert: mixed fruit and vegetables
- Limburgse Tuinbouwveiling in Herk-de-Stad (LTV): mixed vegetables and fruit -
- Belgische Fruitveiling in Sint-Truiden (BFV): fruit
- Veiling Haspengouw in Sint-Truiden (VH): fruit
- Groupe Producteurs Horticules Namurois in Wepion: strawberries only
Types of auctions
There are mixed auctions (vegetables and fruit) and also auctions dealing only in fruit. They have different sale days and how busy they are also varies from season to season.
Mixed auctions get fresh produce in from their producers on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. They have their main sales days on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. But auctions are also held on the other days of the week, although nog on Sundays or public holidays. They products which are sold vary from auction to auction and depending on the season. Some auctions can therefore specialise more in particular products than other auctions.
Fruit auctions have their main sales days on Tuesdays and Thursdays. During the strawberry and small fruit season, auctions are held every day. This is because these delicate fruits have to reach the consumer as quickly as possible!
How an auction works
Both vegetables and fruit are brought to the auction by the growers the day before the sale. The auction inspectors examine and rate the products. After the inspection, and the award of the classification (for example the Flandria label for the best products), the products are immediately refrigerated.
The next morning, the products are sold in the sale room with the clock. This clock gives various pieces of information simultaneously: the quality, the price, the quantity, etc. Every buyer has a button on his bench with which to indicate that he is interested in that particular product. The lights on the clock run from the highest price to the lowest. If the buyer wants to purchase a particular product, he waits until the light comes on by the price that he wants to pay, and the quickly pushes his button. It can get quite exciting: if he persses too soon, the he has to pay too much. If he is too slow off the mark, then someone else might beat him to it. One press of the button does not entitle someone to buy the whole load of vegetables or fruit. The amounts are determined in advance. Modern technology means that buyers can also buy in all the 6 LAVA auctions at one, or even from home.
It is also possible, as a buyer, to agree a price for a product in advance, via the auction or via the LAVA Sales Departement. For example, for a store promotion on chicory, which is know several months in advance. A buyer can be someone buying for himself (and his store outlets), but it can also be someone who is buying vegetables and fruit not for himself but for various clients.
The growers of fresh vegetables and fruit never know in advance how much their products will earn them. This varies from day to day, depending on supply and demand. Depending on the quantity of products brought in, and how much the buyers need, the price is kept steady.
After the sale at the auction, the products are loaded as quickly as possible into refrigerated lorries. This keeps the products fresh until they reach the shops. At that point, they are still actually less than one day old.