Although lagging behind the European trend, supermarkets and consumers are becoming increasingly more aware of a consumption that is socially more responsible: local production
Spanish distribution has already reflected this need and makes appropriate distinctions between the different produce on the supermarket shelves. During the last apple campaign, it was used as an incentive for this sensible trend.
Fruit Today euromagazine interviewed Llorenç Frígola, chairman of the PGI Poma de Girona, to talk about this and other questions.
Are we getting ready for a pitched battle for the Spanish market?
It is obvious that the Spanish apple market is experiencing a period of high competition, where there is a clear presence of imported produce, particularly Italian apples. A market where we also have to compete to find our own position.
Our Italian competitors have known how to permeate the Spanish market very well using their advertising strategies, although the truth is that they have a much higher production volume.
Why consume what is produced 1,000 kilometres away, if it can be produced locally?
There is no real reason for doing it and in fact, in Europe, local productions are particularly vulnerable to consumers’ attention, and they are purchased even when they have higher prices. This is not the case of Spanish apples. But there are social responsibility reasons for eating local produce, which involve the fact that this brings profits and taxes to the local surroundings. On this point, France is a true example of food sovereignty. Additionally, we have to explain to consumers that Girona apples, as well as being high quality produce, are also linked to a sustainable production system, which is both environmentally and people-friendly.
We are all responsible for climate change. Finally, we have perceived the problem of plastics, our water footprint, and our carbon footprint, along with many other topics.
Could Italy’s exceptional situation, where it had 30% less production, have had a favourable influence on getting consumers used to the taste of our apples?
Without any doubt, this has been a satisfactory campaign and, in fact, all the campaigns should be like this, in order for the producers to be able to renew, invest and keep up to date. These results have allowed farmers to receive higher prices than in previous years. Nothing exceptional, but it is good news. However, we are still below France, a market that is very protectionist of its productions.
Do you believe in the story of local produce or have you jumped on the bandwagon because it is good for your business?
Obviously, it is good for our business, but it is also a sign that society should start to change, and it is doing this, becoming aware of the carbon footprint that importing products generates, when locally-produced goods are available at the same time. Additionally, as I have already mentioned, Manzana de Girona specifically works using sustainable, environmentally-friendly and certified systems, offering safe produce with guaranteed quality.
Are there any ups and downs in the Catalan forecasts for Girona?
Not at all; the initial volumes indicate -1%, but this could turn into +1. In general, we have a sustained production since our plantations are at sea level, close to the Mediterranean. We don’t have any problems with cold weather when the trees are flowering. It is a reliable, safe and regular production.
We have reached these market conditions with storerooms empty of apples. Within this context, should prices remain the same?
In principle, yes. Globalisation has communicating vessels and what happens in China, Poland or Germany will affect us. Regardless of this factor, I would caution against the disadvantages of customers taking too long to lower apple prices and for this reason (a high price), less produce is purchased; after four or five months we agree that there are high stocks because we have passed on the prices late.