Belgium Reigns over the EU Frozen Vegetable Market

Fruit And Vegetables September 15, 2015
Author: Olga Minchina
Account Manager

Source: Greenyard Foods 

The advancement over the years in modern freezing methods has effectively secured the preservation of nutritional values in vegetables, extended shelf life, and helped increase profit margins for its producers.

Thanks to innovative vegetable freezing techniques, producers now are able to deliver their products to all corners of the world. What's more, frozen food has become a perfect solution for the fast paced lifestyles of urban dwellers.

Shifting food preferences and booming healthy lifestyle trends have encouraged European consumers to include frozen vegetables as an integral part of their daily diets. As a result, the frozen food sector has been expanding rapidly, and the frozen vegetable category is expected to continue growing in the future at the expense of fresh vegetables.

When buying frozen vegetables, customers tend to opt for convenient packages that can easily be heated in a microwave for fast and effortless cooking. To meet this demand, frozen vegetable producers have flooded the market with a remarkable variety of mixtures with all the preserved freshness and nutritional properties of fresh vegetables. And, of course, frozen vegetables are available all-year-round, independent of seasonality.

Europe is a growing market for frozen vegetables. At present, Belgium dominates on the EU frozen vegetable market. In 2014, Belgium exported 93% of its total frozen vegetable output. Of this amount, 23% was supplied to Germany, where Belgium's frozen vegetables held a 41% share of total German consumption.

The Belgian frozen vegetable producers are concentrated in the region of South and West Flanders, focusing mainly on carrots, beans, spinach, peas, cauliflower and sprouts. These companies are primarily family-run, with deep-rooted farming traditions. Some of these Belgian companies have already expanded their business across the EU, and subsidiaries of West-Flemish frozen vegetable companies can now be found in the UK, Austria, the Netherlands, Spain, France, Denmark and Portugal.

The Greenyard Foods Group is one of the biggest Belgian frozen food producers. Recently, this giant acquired Univeg Belgium and Peatinvest, becoming one of the major players on the EU market.

The Federation of Vegetable Processing Companies (Vegebe), established in 1980, plays an essential role in harmonizing rules and standards that enable Belgian local companies to garner the international acclaim they now enjoy. The Belgian frozen food industry has continued to prosper and gamely meet fierce European competition thanks to this institutional framework. Cooperation with partnerships like Vegebe also brings innovation into the food processing industry by facilitating cooperation with research centers and universities.

Vegetable processing plants vary greatly in size and complexity. In order to operate on an international scale, though, industry participants are expected to have technologically advanced machinery, in order to keep pace with the speed necessary to properly meet demand.

The frozen vegetable industry has benefited enormously from technology and innovation that has led to the enhanced quality of its products. These technological advances in the processing of vegetables allow European consumers to enjoy the full flavor and nutritional value of vegetables throughout the year.

Being the main supplier of frozen vegetables, Belgium held a 41% share of total exports in 2014. However, the fastest growing suppliers were Spain (+8%) and Poland (+3%), from 2007 to 2014. Spain significantly strengthened its position in the European export structure, from 11% in 2007 to 15% in 2014.

In 2014, the main destinations of frozen vegetables were Germany (19%), France (17%) and the UK (14%). The share exported to Italy increased (+2 percentage points), while the share sent to the Netherlands illustrated negative dynamics (-4 percentage points). The shares of the other countries remained relatively stable throughout the analyzed period.

Source: EU: Frozen Vegetables - Market Report. Analysis And Forecast To 2020