Selling outside the Old World is a commercial requirement that the sector is planning as one of its top priority challenges
With the main European markets already consolidated, the Huelva berries sector is seriously looking at other commercial options such as countries in the Persian Gulf or China. In order to market with Asia, the export protocol for blueberries has already been presented at the Ministry. “We are living in a globalised world and we must look for new business opportunities since we maintain one of the most professional berry sectors in the world and our offer has a very wide range and is continuously increasing,” explains Rafael Domínguez, manager of Freshuelva.
Reaching out into the distance, but without abandoning what we have close by, since “the Spanish market itself in some of the categories such as raspberries and blueberries still has a long way to go, along with strengthening our presence in countries such as Sweden, Norway and Finland,” the executive comments.
The production from Huelva is characterised by its high degree of specialisation, to which is added its capacity to be present on the markets almost nine months of the year with an extensive offer in all the berry categories: strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries, products to which Goji berries have recently been incorporated.
Concerning the current campaign, the executive explains that “the first strawberries arrived onto the market with very good quality and the chains have informed us of this and we hope that it all continues in the same way, and that the weather conditions respect the fields and we have a campaign that is more or less like last year’s.”
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Regarding the province’s production volumes, this season is showing a 9% increase in surface area, “an aspect that we already sensed, but that will give us some volumes that are very similar to those of a few campaigns ago. As I have mentioned on previous occasions, there won’t be any significant imbalances and we will always be within a range of more or less 5%.”
Referring to the significant increase recorded in the production of blueberries and the drop in profitability for the farmers (between the 2012-13 and the current campaigns, the production hectares have tripled and currently reach 2,858), Domínguez explains that “we know the concern that this subject generates, but with the promotions and the opening up of new markets, I am sure that the situation will improve, because a product with these characteristics still has a long way to go.”
In terms of raspberries, this is a highly balanced crop, both in production and in hectares and it has the advantage of its two campaigns: autumn-winter and spring. “There were a few problems in the autumn due to the warmth, but at Christmas the product was marketed very well and without any hiccups; and in the near future, in February, we will start the spring season with the remounting varieties. Generally, all the raspberry varieties have excellent results in Huelva.”
With respect to the agreement signed with the Chilean entity Asoex, the executive from the Andalusian Association comments that “it has been a significant step regarding the exchange of experiences since Chile is an important producing country that is well advanced in everything on the subject of post-harvest and it has great experience on very distant markets, and we can provide knowledge about variety renewal and crops. It is the moment to develop relations with an important exporting country and, in fact, some Andalusian companies have subsidiaries in this country,” Domínguez adds.
The strength and importance of the sector is reflected in the figures, as may be seen by numbers from the last campaigns, with red berry exports passing the barrier of 1,000 million euros, meaning 19% more than in the previous year.
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