Fruit Today magazine interviewed Juan Báñez, its general manager, who talked to us about the latest project to be carried out by the cooperative.
Cuna de Platero is a cooperative that is always at the forefront. What are the latest new developments you are working on?
For years, Cuna de Platero has been carrying out its own variety research project with which we have obtained important achievements in bilberries. Now, with the aim of bringing together and centralising all the trials on a single farm, we will use some land near the warehouse, which is also close to our laboratory. Up to now, the trials were decentralised in the fields of our cooperative members. In this way, we are going to gain efficiency. The research into new varieties is a top priority and a key question for the future. We are licence-holders of what we consider to be leaders in the sector, but we are also working on our own research.
Cupla is a result of this research and it has brought you great joy.
It has. The Cupla variety is the result of these trials. For us, the future involves a substantial improvement of varieties and we continue working on this, not only for bilberries, but also for raspberries.
And are there any new developments at the preparation centre?
Yes, we have also carried out an important technological commitment of around 3.5 million euros for a new bilberry selection and calibration machine. Furthermore, the work never stops; we are in the middle of refurbishing our offices, which will also become more centralised and equipped with solar panel energy, making them virtually self-sufficient.
What is the current season looking like?
We have gone from times when the offer was greater than the demand (November and December), as the warm autumn caused early harvesting, to a more stable phase in January, where supply and demand are in line with each other.
That is to say, up until mid-January we had more production volume and lower prices than last year, but now this has balanced out, with the normal January situation occurring.
Can you give me the figures for this campaign?
The planted surface area will remain virtually stable, with a production area of all berries of around 1,000 hectares. The volumes are difficult to foresee because the campaign is long and the weather conditions uncertain, but we could produce around 50 million kilos.
With the productions from Ávila, you have become ‘long haul’ suppliers. How was the summer campaign?
Avila allows us to satisfactorily meet our goal, which is to serve our clients 12 months of the year. We have sufficient volumes from June to December to cover our clients’ requirements at a time when there are not many operators on the market.
Do you think you will have labour problems again?
Without any doubt. In Huelva there are several points that have not been resolved. One of them is labour and another is water, which possibly might be closer to finding a solution than the first point. Regarding labour, we have some contingents from different countries, which, in theory, correspond to a certain number of people, but which in the end are always fewer. Added to this problem there is the fact that people leave this labour market, for example, the Romanian community. There are also other sectors that are looking for labour and farming is put to one side. Therefore, we can rely on the workers who come, but there are also others who leave.