El Ciruelo is using its gourmet brand to spotlight the fruit with excellent qualities
The stone fruit season is starting at El Ciruelo a few days early compared to last year and with good forecasts. The company from Murcia continues to grow in this segment, and it will add 10-15% in volume in 2019, reaching a total of 40,000 tonnes on 1,500 hectares. Its policy of serving the chains from the start of the campaign, which begins on the 20th of April, works very well commercially, and for this reason the expansion continues to go ahead, as can be seen by the nearly 60 new hectares that they have planted in Alhama. But this year this growth comes with an important new development: its commitment to ecological crops. “We are going to start planting bio fruit trees on a total of 50 hectares. The first harvests will come within two or three campaigns,” the manager, José Velasco, advances to Fruit Today. His aim is “to continue in the front line, satisfying the demand of clients who demand this type of produce from us.”
In previous years, El Ciruelo opted for variety renewal in references such as flat peaches and apricots and, searching for greater quality, they decided to harvest when the fruit is at an optimum point of ripeness. Not surprisingly, for Velasco, the best promotion campaign involves marketing the produce when it is “at its best moment.” An essential aspect, given the negative consumption curve being experienced by the sector. In March, the agricultural organisations asked for “unity” to bring a halt to the drop in stone fruit consumption and last year it was seen how exports dropped sharply (24% in nectarines, 27% in plums…). Figures for which the manager from El Ciruelo declares are slightly “deceptive, because there was an important reduction due to storms.” However, he is aware of the decline and confirms that “all the efforts that can be made on a consumption level will be welcome.” The company is concentrating on informing about the goodness of fresh fruit through promotions with the distribution chains. And as they have already done with grapes, they are also using the ‘Moments by Ciruelo’ brand to differentiate stone fruit which is different due to taste and presentation and provides a bonus for national and international consumers. Under this hallmark, plums from the new range may be found, with a high level of sugar and flavour; apricots with over 20 Brix that are completely red and nectarines that stand out due to their flavour or colour.
Foreign sales represent 85% of the total sales at El Ciruelo and the search for markets is continuous. “We are keeping a very watchful eye on the new protocols in Vietnam, India… Over 50% of the population is concentrated in the East and we are certain that their moment will come; our studies of these markets must move ahead”.