With a potential persimmon production that will reach 450 million kilos in the fields (this figure always drops on a commercial level), the season could bring up to 40% more volume to the markets than in 2018-2019.
Fruit Today euromagazine talked to Pascual Prats, chairman of the National Persimmon Association.
At what point is the production now?
The devastation of the ‘cold drop’ in the southern provinces of the Valencian Community has been a Godsend for the persimmon trees that have been washed and the size of their fruits has increased.
We must not be nervous about the amount, what we must do is defend the price of the produce. Sometimes, the syndicates see us as persimmon mercenaries, but 90% of the associates have our own production and we know that the farmers should receive a minimum income. We maintain the same interests, particularly on the subject of pests, such as the citrus mealy bug and white fly coming from citrus crops, but we do not have the same products as the citrus fruit growers to fight them. This latest pest is certain to mean a drop of around 10% to the harvest.
Could establishing some quality standards for the categories be an important benefit for the sector?
Of course. It is one of our most important challenges. Supermarkets and also the end consumer, must understand the subject of qualities in order to have a higher percentage of usable fruit, since producing it has taken many litres of water and a great deal of labour for the end product to be thrown away. We are all quick to talk about food waste, but we need to start to act. A stripe on the skin does not mean the fruit should be thrown away. The most important point is that it is healthy.
We don’t want sustainability and the circular economy or food waste to be left aside as just a theory. What comes as an added extra, what comes first, etc. must be defined. Persimmons are not perfect billiard balls and at the D.O. they doing things correctly because they already include small faults in their pictures.
In fact, on the subject of containers we already have reached an agreement with Fruit Audit to audit the quality at source and we have signed an agreement with Lab Colour for the microbiological analyses. Another of the important agreements will occur on circular economy subjects, since biodiesel or biogas will be obtained from the persimmon discards.
Is there great interest in opening up new markets outside Europe?
We are not afraid to export to distant markets, but we must be cautious. For this reason, we are also collaborating with research at the agronomy faculty to study astringency and conservation in greater depth.
Another of our goals is to create a single brand for very distant markets, since the brand name is always important and acts as recognition for this product as opposed to another one.
This will be a brand that includes compliance statements and the companies will not be able to come in and out of it at will. On a market such as India it could work very well and the risk of this sale decreases for each of us. I don’t think that anybody wants to have 200 containers at sea by themselves.
You have always publicly stated your availability to hold conversations with the D.O. and join forces. What point has this agreement reached?
If the sector is successful, we will all be successful. I think that during this year conversations will move forward, because very soon, the Ministry will ask us for a guarantee for a considerable amount to pay for the expenses of the Chinese delegations that are coming to Spain to inspect and get to know the product. Either we pay this or this protocol will be cancelled and it will pass on to another product. This is one of the most urgent arguments where we must join together with Asociafruit and Anecoop. When the Chinese authorities decide on one product or another, or on both, we must present this bank guarantee. It is the first condition to continue with the proceedings for the Chinese protocol. Therefore, we are bound to come to an understanding.
Are you talking about the creation of a Sectorial Panel, in the same way as has already occurred with cherries?
Yes, obviously. With Anecoop at the head a very detailed study was presented regarding the reason why the persimmon must be the next product accepted by China.
The Regional Secretary, Francisco Mulero, made a public commitment to move forward with this question and to have a Panel formed at the end of the year.
This would be a definitive move forward. In the same way that the companies are becoming involved for the good of the sector, we would like our politicians to become more involved with facts. We know that they cannot do anything economically due to a lack of resources, but they should put means, top level meetings, etc. at our disposal. As long as nothing moves forward, we will all continue to lose.