Dignitaries from Spain and South Africa recently came to the UK to the discuss the benefits of two key fruit products available this summer.
Representatives from the South African raisin industry talked up trade possibilities back in May with dried fruit suppliers, while Spanish delegates were promoting the unique qualities of premium European Picota cherries last week.
“The experience was incredibly valuable,” said Ferdie Botha, chief executive of Raisins South Africa. “It’s been a while since we’ve caught up with UK suppliers because of the pandemic, so meeting face to face was an excellent opportunity to gain an understanding of the current UK dried fruit market and establish areas where we can offer support.”
The raisin industry in South Africa is making a comeback after a production season that saw 20% of its crops lost due to flooding. The bounce-back campaign expect to see slight increases to 67,000 metric tonnes this year. South Africa also boasts the difficult-to-find golden raisins.
Meanwhile, at Iberica, Marylebone, cherries quite literally were on the menu for retail buyers, importers and members of the UK’s Spanish Embassy and Spanish Chamber of Commerce. They were treated to an authentic tapas lunch with European Picota cherries as the featured item. It included pickled beetroot and horseradish granita with orange, Picota cherries and fresh Picota cherry juice; marinated yellowfin tuna loin with ajoblanco, almonds and pickled Picotas; and a Rubia gallega beef fillet with coffee and beetroot purée, smoked Picota cherries and bone marrow sauce.
The Picota cherry is smaller than others but has an explosive taste. The goal of the meeting was not only to discuss the many benefits of the fruit but how to promote it and give it visibility in stores. Given Brits’ passion to cook from home, particularly during the pandemic, recipe ideas are a surefire way to draw in shoppers.
There should be no problem for consumers to get them this year. Cccording to Agrupación de Cooperativas Valle Del Jerte, “high sunshine hours have resulted in a crop that is of the highest quality, beautifully sweet and crunchy in texture.” In that production, 40% will be headed for the UK market, which comes in just ahead of Germany.
“We are only at the start of the season but feel very optimistic about the quality and volumes meeting expectations this year,” said the group’s export manager Miguel Ángel Durán.
The European Picota cherry season will run through the beginning of August.