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Torero: “This really is an atypical campaign”

The current stone-fruit campaign in Murcia, one of the earliest areas in Spain, has experienced several ups and downs and is proving to be really atypical.
After very important frosts in the province’s most productive, inland area, which had a great impact on plantations and reduced the harvest by 20% to 30%, the season started as one of the earliest in several decades due to the lack of chill hours in the case of some varieties.
Once the season got underway, the situation became complicated for two weeks in which the weather in Europe did not let up, featuring cold temperatures that had not appeared in the winter. “Despite the little fruit we had available, the warehouses were full because there was no demand in Europe.”
In Murcia this will be a short campaign with several different periods: a lack of demand, regularisation of available products and a third stage, “which we hope will result in better prices since the lack of produce throughout Europe is a fact,” declares Frutas Torero’s Antonio Caballero.
At the moment, the reality for Murcia’s exporters is prices that, despite the scarcity, are the same as or even less than those of a normal season.
“This really is an atypical season, in which nothing of what we expected has taken place. We hope that now that there’s a lot less nectarine and peach available, prices will rise,” the manager added.
In relation to the different categories of fruit, “both Saturn peaches and regular peaches have experienced great disparity on the tree itself, with some being mature and others not.”
Moreover, important batches of apricots had to be left uncollected, since they had been split open by the rains.
Although Abarán is one of the Spanish companies authorised to export China this season, the manager claims that “there’s a chance that we might not do so because the fruit has to arrive in good condition and I feel that, at the moment, it’s a bit too soon. When we do it, we’ll do it right.”
However, he added that, without undermining the importance of China’s stone fruit protocol, “in the case of our company, it’s far more interesting to follow Chile’s example and wait for a grape export protocol to be signed, as Chile did in the past, since it’s easier from the perspective of preserving the produce. Grapes shipped by sea arrive in very good condition.”
With regard to the different consumptions according to country, Caballero explains that “we can really see that the economic crisis has hit European consumers hard. People buy vegetables first and then fruit. I believe that this lack of spending power is the main problem that we’re facing.”
The grape campaign will begin at the end of June or first week in July. The Superior variety experienced rains when it was flowering and its outcome is not clear. The same is true of the Crimson and later varieties.

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