It all started in the summer of 2020 …
Gust tells his story to Sven Pichal: “It started at the end of last summer. We suddenly felt like balls in tomato sauce. In that sauce I always put pieces of foot dust from a jar, sometimes from a can. So I went to my local Spar, but I saw that the rack was completely empty. Something that can happen in corona times, so I didn’t ask myself many questions. “
A week later Gust goes to the Spar again and the shelf of the celery in the jar is still empty. He asks for more information from the store manager, but he cannot help him, says Gust. “All she could tell me was that the celery in jar hadn’t come in for a while.”
“Afterwards I also went to Delhaize, Colruyt and Carrefour and he was nowhere to be found. In no supermarket could I get an explanation why the celery in a jar was suddenly no longer on the shelves.” Gust even went to look for his celery as far as France, just across the border in the Auchan, but there too the racks were empty.
Gust has also learned his light from his son-in-law who works in the Belorta auction. He was unaware of a celery shortage and was therefore unable to provide a proper explanation.
But why is Gust so eagerly looking for that celery in a jar? “Pure nostalgia! All our lives we have been eating meatballs in tomato sauce with puree, and that sauce always contains pieces of celery.” It has become a habit and that is why Gust now misses the product so badly.
Sven Pichal gets his light on Caroline De Bruycker. She works for Pietercil Delby’s, the distributor of the HAK brand in Belgium. They are the best-known producer of vegetables in a jar in our country.
“We have indeed had canned celery in our range for many years, but we have indeed stopped doing so in 2019. We are constantly looking at which products from our range are doing well and not so well. In this way we can make way for new innovations. product was only made by HAK for the Belgian market, the volume was small and declining and it was no longer profitable to produce it. At the moment we believe more in legumes such as chickpeas and lentils. “
It is striking that Caroline is not alarmed by the question from Gust, because the company itself also receives many questions from consumers.
“When we stop with a product, we always get questions from consumers, but with this celery in a jar that is remarkably more than with other products. Apparently this is a very nostalgic product for many consumers and a real loss.”
HAK is certainly attentive to the many questions and is reviewing whether it is possible to bring the product back onto the market. “We are currently looking at whether we can scale up the harvest with an external party, so that we can put the product back in our range. Because precisely because this is a product that is only in demand on the Belgian market, it is not profitable to do this alone. Obviously, that external party must also meet the quality requirements of HAK. “
If HAK were to bring celery in a jar onto the market again, Gust would have to have a little more patience. “If we start with it, it will not be until the harvest in the autumn, so we will be able to bring the product back to the market at the earliest in 2022. And then the retailers must also want to put it on the shelves again, because also for to them this was a small product. “
With Gust’s request, the Inspector was drawn not only to HAK but also to the supermarkets. Do they really not have their own brand that is still on the shelves? The answer: no.
Delhaize has removed both its own brand and HAK from the shelves because there was too little demand for it. Celery is also no longer in their range at Colruyt, Aldi and Lidl. The only positive signal can be heard from Carrefour. The celery in a jar will be available there again from this summer, in 800 gram jars. The reason he wasn’t there for a while was apparently a disappointing harvest last year.
So Gust can go there from this summer. From next summer he may also find the celery in a jar from HAK on the shelves again.