Lerida, now the European region with the greatest specialisation in stone fruit, salutes new plantations of pip fruit
The long-awaited diversification by such an important cooperative as Fruits de Ponent, means continuing to keep an eye on apple and pear productions.
Fruit Today euromagazine consulted sources from the cooperative for this interview.
Over a decade has passed since Lerida replaced pip fruit with stone fruit. Do you think this was the right thing to do? Currently, pip fruit is working better than stone fruit.
Stone fruit adapts very well to the region’s soil and climate characteristics and in particular to the “Baix Segre”. These circumstances, along with the variety renewal we have carried out, have made this region one of the most specialised production areas in Europe.
Pip fruit has the advantage of a shelf life calendar that allows it to be present all year round, which means better commercial management. One of Fruits de Ponent’s future challenges will consist of diversification and, accordingly, we are in the middle of a search for new pip varieties, with the best adaption possible to our production area. Therefore, we predict a change in trend for new plantations made by our associates.
At just under a month until the midpoint of the stone fruit campaign, what can you tell me about it?
As has occurred with the entire sector, Fruits de Ponent was facing up to a campaign with less quantity (-20%), which up to now has meant fluidity on the market and some reasonable prices for the farmers. Since Friday, the 20th of July, when many of our farms suffered from a hailstorm, the situation has changed, but we continue being able to serve the planned programmes, although the rate has slowed down.
What should the sector be doing to make Spaniards increase our stone fruit consumption?
The sector must opt for quality produce and consumers must perceive it as such. Quality fruit is the basis for repeat purchases and it would increase consumption. Regarding the low consumption, there are many different factors involved: quality, markets, too much offer, presentation, lack of promotion…
In terms of communication, do you think an important campaign is needed as an agent for change that explains the benefits of stone fruit?
Yes, of course, and we are aware that promotion plans are being prepared in general. Promotion and marketing are essential in our sector and consumers must receive constant ‘input’, even more so when we are talking about a healthy food product that is well-accepted by our society. In any event, now we must take action.
How is the fruit juice project evolving?
OKIJUICE, with its different flavour references is evolving very well, since the feedback received from consumers has been very positive. People like the 100% natural juice for its authenticity and quality, as well as for being a juice prepared by companies in the region that are experts in the fruit world.