Small berries are slipping into the strawberry production.
Blueberries have grown by 30% in surface area during this campaign and now make up 2,538 hectares, whilst raspberries cover an area of 1,932, with an important difference compared to blackberries, which today only occupy 160 and are basically controlled by one or two operators.
Strawberries, the most important crop, is reducing its potential year after year, and between the current campaign and the previous one there has been a drop of almost 20%. Specifically, the surface area planted in this season has decreased by 7% and has gone from 5,860 hectares to 5,400.
However, and as some of the most significant voices in the sector state, it should not be forgotten that “this is Huelva’s most important crop and the one with which we have dominated European markets for decades.” Furthermore, this decrease in strawberry volume to some extent gives a breathing space to the produce, since “it means taking almost 20% of the offer off the market which has meant fluidity and good prices on the markets, at least up until Easter.”
Nevertheless, strawberry producers must remain watchful of the countries that were previously not part of the competition (Holland, France and Germany) and today, thanks to the new technologies they are using, are beginning to bring their productions closer to the same months as the Huelva campaign.
The British market is the client for blueberries and almost half of the total exports go to this destination, with over 13,000 tonnes being purchased. This is followed by Germany and Holland, which jointly make up 35% of the exports from Huelva.
Within this context of sales to the United Kingdom, there is a serious concern by the sector regarding the future consequences of the Brexit, and on this point Rafael Dominguez, manager of Freshuelva, states that “alternative sales for the small berries can be found on the national market. The association has its sights set on promoting and strengthening knowledge about raspberries and blueberries in the large Spanish supermarkets”.
Furthermore, and with the first import actions of blueberries from the Southern Hemisphere by some operators, Huelva could become a berry supplier all year round. “We already have a strawberry campaign that covers virtually six months; raspberry productions have extended thanks to the new varieties that allow several harvests and with our own blueberries, plus those we can import from the Southern Hemisphere, Huelva could be present on supermarket shelves all year long,” several businessmen explained.
The importance of new trade flows will be made obvious at the next 3rd Red Fruit Congress that will be held in Huelva on the 21st and 22nd of June, where the South American producing countries will be special guests.