Fruit Today Euromagazine talked to one of the landmark exporters from Murcia, Antonio Torero, about the recently started stone fruit campaign, as well as the sector as a whole
What are the prospects for the current campaign?
In principle, we thought that it was going to start around seven days before the normal dates, but now, with the drop in temperatures over the past few weeks, chances are, this will not happen after all. What we can confirm is that there will be a shortage of apricots due to the frosts and to the lack of setting. And this affects not just Murcia, but Catalonia as well.
And the other fruit?
We think that the levels will be normal. In my opinion, no new plantations of fruit trees are being carried out in the Region of Murcia, but an important variety renewal is taking place, which is more in line with the varieties in demand on the market.
In our particular case, we have grubbed fruit trees, moving them over to grape production, especially on land that is in areas with a risk of frost, as the insurance policies aren’t giving the necessary cover and, obviously, this means a hazard that decreases with grapes.
What new developments does the company have?
In grapes, we have been able to plant some varieties we previously didn’t have access to. Specifically, two new varieties from IFG last year and another two this year. We hope that from now onwards we will be able to complete a calendar that allows us to compete with the new countries we want to reach and where the USA is our main competitor. Up to now, the ITUM varieties are the ones that have saved the campaigns.
Are nectarines the company’s most important stone fruit by volume?
Yes, indeed. They are the fruit with most volume in the area because years ago there were price problems with peaches. The trend is beginning to be reversed because peaches are being planted again, meaning that in a few years’ time the volumes will tend to become equal.
The truth is that the variety renewal in Murcia has a correct level, always seeking out profitability. In the flat peach category, the varieties UFO 3 and UFO 4 have been renewed for other, more modern ones. The plantations have continued being renewed, but I think that we will have a lower volume of fruit in this campaign.
What situation are the markets in? And what is your impression after the contacts in Shanghai, Hanoi and Saigon?
Frutas Torero relies on the traditional European markets (England, Germany, France, etc.). The truth is, exporters’ main concern is that the weather is good at the destination when the volumes start to be important. This is an essential factor to activate consumption and we already know the consequences of bad weather at the destination, as happened two years’ ago. Most of us would be delighted if this campaign were merely ordinary, and not even an exceptionally good one.
Regarding our trip to Asia, it was highly satisfactory, but we are aware that Rome wasn’t built in a day. After this trip, we are more knowledgeable about our competition. They are distant countries, which in the case of an accumulation in Europe, could bring about a breathing space.
Does the production from Murcia have any special handicaps compared to other producing regions?
Yes, it does, particularly with water, which is much more expensive than in other areas. In addition, our productions are smaller. For this reason, we have to charge more for the fruit in order to cover costs or the sector cannot survive.