Spain: "Export cherry campaign underway with larger calibres"

Published: 8 May 2014

On 22 April, four days in advance compared to last season, the Catalan company SAT Bepa, based in Seròs, harvested Lleida's earliest cherries on its plantations of Baix Segre, where fewer kilos and larger calibres are expected compared to last year.  
"This year, due to certain anomalies in the pollination, we expect a drop in production volumes of around 10%. The effects have been felt especially with the earliest varieties, so until the mid-campaign, volumes will not recover," states the manager of SAT Bepa, Francesc Pena, adding that "it will be a campaign with a lack of smaller calibres, since the most common will be the 28, 30 and 32". 
As for prices, Francesc points out that in the beginning they are still 20% lower than last year. "However, this could be positive, because now there are more segments of the population consuming cherries, which will ensure that the current prices, despite being lower, will remain stable for longer."  
Although it will still take another seven days before there are significant volumes of cherries in the markets, this week the harvest of the Stone Sweet, Grace Star, Folfer and Sunmit varieties, which are all intended for export, has started. These are harder and with higher sugar levels, thus catering to all markets depending on consumer preferences.  
Under the brands Olimpfruit and Afrodita, the company sells 90% of its cherries in export markets, mainly in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, the UK, Germany and Russia. 
"Two years ago, we tested air shipments to Panama and Brazil, although such lines of work are still complicated. We believe that Europe offers interesting niche markets in which fruit with an above-average differentiated value is demanded, with some retail chains in the UK requiring a minimum of 16° Brix, which not everyone can achieve. Similarly, Dutch and Belgian supermarkets demand dark-coloured fruit, as consumers associate the colour with the flavour," explains Francesc. 
"Our philosophy is to offer a fruit that not only serves as a dessert or as a healthy food, but as a flavour experience, and we achieve this mostly by shipping fruit to its destination the same day that it is harvested. Furthermore, we strive to minimise the potassium nitrate concentration in the soils, as it has a negative impact on the fruit's hardness." 
"If the weather in Europe from now on remains warm and dry, we expect to have a positive campaign," concludes Francesc Pena. 
Courtesy of Fresh Plaza  

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