1,000 hectares from two of the cooperatives belonging to the organisation are coming into production, strengthening internal growth
We interviewed the organisation’s manager, Francisco Sánchez, who emphasised the importance of the farmers in Onubafruit and how it is essential to work to ensure that they can make a suitable income.
How does Onubafruit see the strawberry campaign?
I think that, as is also happening in the rest of the sector, strawberries are going through a general period of stability in terms of planted hectares. Today’s important challenges are concentrated on the subject of variety. On this point, Onubafruit has always been in the lead, and this year we have planted over two and a half million units corresponding to new varieties. At this point in time, I believe that there is not much future for those who don’t have their own varieties or who don’t belong to a club.
How do you see the threat of Moroccan raspberries?
I think that we must be practical and assume that it is a fact that we must live with because today we are in a globalised world. Mind you, all the produce arriving in Europe must have the same production requirements and specifications as in EU countries. I think that we must devote our efforts to selling and not spend our days getting upset about this. There are professional organisations that represent us and that are devoted to defending us from this type of situation.
At Onubafruit, an essential point for our fruit to be profitable is our differentiation capacity compared to our competition, and that we are able to offer a value proposal that meets our clients’ and consumers’ needs. For this reason, we have opted for the raspberry varieties that we market exclusively: Imara, Kweli, Lagorai, Vajolet, Shani, Wengi and Malling Bella.
How do you think that the bilberry problem could be resolved?
Basically, the problem lies in the fact that we have planted more bilberries than can reasonably be sold. I would dare to say that the crisis will be longstanding, if not permanent.
But you are not slowing down your collaborations to obtain better varieties?
Obviously, but this is not something that is only restricted to bilberries; this is the case for all our products.
As I have already mentioned, Onubafruit is very well aware of the differential value that the varieties bring to the business and, for this reason, we are constantly collaborating and we have specific agreements with the top plant breeders all over the world, in Holland, Australia and the United States.
To sum up, in order to face up to the bilberry situation, we will have the best ultra-early, medium and late varieties, which will give us greater commercial competitiveness.
This advanced variety development allows us to reach figures such as the 36,000 tonnes of strawberries, 12 of raspberries and 16 of bilberries that we plan to market this year. All of this without taking into account the almost 10,000 tonnes of persimmons, 16,000 of citrus fruits and 10,000 of avocados.
International expansion is a fact that you don’t talk about much, but Onubafruit is present in the United Kingdom and also in Holland.
Yes, indeed, we operate in the United Kingdom, and having a base there will be an advantage for our work after Brexit. On the other hand, we also have premises in Holland, where we work very closely with the varieties. Furthermore, I should say that in the near future we will be present in other, surprising locations.