Spanish berry growers put domestic market in the crosshairs

Spanish berry growers put domestic market in the crosshairs

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Spain’s berry industry may be heavily focused on selling to other European countries, but an industry representative in the leading growing region of Huelva is now hoping to boost business closer to home.

Berry association Freshuelva said around 15-20% of strawberry production was sold on the domestic market, but the figure was far lower for blueberries, raspberries and blackberries.

“Only about 5% of production of those are sold in Spain, so we really want to boost consumption of those three berries – we feel there is significant potential,” general manager Rafael Domínguez tells PBUK.

He said the industry would be carrying out strong promotional campaigns about the health benefits of berries while also increasing consumers’ knowledge about them.

Domínguez also highlighted while strawberries had been around in the country for a long time, there was “not a culture” of the other three as they were far newer.

Aside from Spain, Scandinavia is another key area in Europe the Huelva berry industry is targeting for growth.

The strawberry season has now come to an end, with Domínguez expecting volumes to end up at a similar level to last year, which saw close to 300,000 metric tonnes (MT) produced over around 5,500 hectares.

“The campaign has been in line with last year. Early varieties have been compensating the production, there weren’t large peaks. We are going to get the exact numbers soon, but effective it production look to be similar,” he said, adding the poor weather in the first part of 2017 had caused some difficulties for growers.

Spanish berry growers have a relatively empty European market when the season begins, Domínguez explained, but competition heats up from the likes of France and Italy in the second quarter.

Some 12,000MT of raspberries were produced last year from January to June, and the representative said production was slightly higher in January and February this year. The season is nearing its end, with about 10-15% left to harvest.

Blueberry production was slightly higher at around 14,000MT, but Domínguez said this figure would rapidly increase as many of the plantations were new and would enter into full production in the next two or three years.

Blackberry production was far lower at 1,500MT.

He said the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture was also working on obtaining access to the Chinese market.

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