These are the words of the Chairman of ‘5 al día’ and CEO of FruitGrowing Quality, Joaquín Rey, who believes that “to maintain the existence of a strong business fabric, which can defend the deployment of brands or varieties and be their prescribers, the retail stores are necessary in the urban context.”
The executive goes further, and believes that on the current panorama of wholesale markets, and specifically in Madrid, it is suffering from the lack of changeover, either of the family members or the generation of the previous “apprentices”, who evolved and created their own point of sale. “The main client profile, today, is lacking in sectorial tradition and knowledge to be passed to the end consumers, but in any case, they are the people who are responsible for the market remaining alive because the new generations do not find the current situation attractive, having to work at night, with work starting at three in the morning.”
Although the executive considers Mercamadrid to be an essential logistical point on the Spanish national panorama, he affirms that the market has become obsolete. “We urgently need a change in the working hours to ensure that the second and third generations want to join the work created by their parents and grandparents and feel proud to belong to the primary sector.”
Another important sword of Damocles that is hanging over the market is the renewal of the administrative concession that ends in 2032, regarding which there still is no certainty. “The companies who want to invest in the food unit have been on ‘stand by’ for years now until this uncertainty has been cleared up.”
Rey, CEO of FruitGrowing Quality, a company that produces and markets green, yellow and red kiwis, explains that “although the season has not been free from complications due to the weather conditions and the high production costs, kiwis are one of the most stable fruits around regarding price and volume.”
The company continues extending its tentacles with its own productions beyond the traditional areas in Portugal, Galicia and Valencia, and they are now reaching Asturias, Cantabria, Huelva and Extremadura, with their own nurseries in Segovia and Murcia.
“One of our priority goals involves increasing local production and decreasing imports from third countries, as has happened with other products.”
The executive calculates that in Spain there could be the capacity to increase green kiwi production by 2,000 hectares, with another 2,000 for yellow and red kiwis to reduce dependence on foreign imports.
“I believe that one of the most important lessons to be taken from the pandemic is that we must strengthen the local economy and generate social, economic and environmental sustainability, and this only occurs with a circular economy in a nearby environment.”
Regarding the current economic uncertainty, the executive is convinced that “the moment fruit reaches a price that is above expectations or a ‘price barrier’, consumers move their consumption habits towards other areas, even towards alternative products such as industrially-produced pastries or dairy products. Eating well and healthily is not expensive; the problem lies in the fact that eating badly and unhealthily is very cheap.”
However, kiwi culture is a booming sector and the businessman proposes forming a Spanish National Association with full voting and speaking privileges in the EU’s agrifood forums. “Spain’s kiwi consumption is very high, above many European countries, reaching almost 4 kilos per person/year. It is the ninth most consumed product and an opportunity that the sector must assess.”
Regarding the advances in the crop, Rey thinks that “due to climate change, Spanish fields will continue to hold their hegemony if they are protected with nets and use green aerothermics and/or solar energies.”