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Spain: High grape prices expected after up to 50% losses in production
As Murcia concludes the stonefruit season, the table grape harvest is kicking off.
This week, the first table grapes from the municipality of Abarán entered the market; an area which, together with the regions of Blanca and Cieza, was hit by hailstorms last week that affected the latest stonefruit varieties, as well as the vineyards that were ready for the harvest.
"The damage has not been as severe for grapes, as unlike fruit trees, vineyards are protected with anti-hail nets; this, after all, is not a rare weather phenomenon in the area," says Antonio Caballero Palazón, administrator of Hortofrutícola TOPI and manager of Frutas Torero (photo below). "The nets protect the crop as long as the hailstones are not too large; however, this time they reached the size of golf balls and perforated them, and as such the fruit was damaged."
Despite this drawback, Hortofrutícola TOPI has started the campaign 10-15 day early with the Superior, Sugar One and Prime early seedless table grape varieties, whose production will fall by 30 to 50% compared to last year, "which is not too strange, considering the volumes we harvested last season," explains Antonio Caballero. "Plants slow down their production cycle when the previous year has been one of excessive volumes."
This has also had a positive impact on the quality of the fruit, "which has reached higher Brix levels and consequently has a better flavour than last year, as well as larger grapes. The quality is significantly higher this season."
Antonio hopes that this drop in production volumes will result in higher prices compared to last year. "We are already coming out of a negative stonefruit campaign due to falling consumption in both local and export markets, mainly in Germany and the UK, which led us and many other marketers to increase our exports to Russia with lower prices."
Moreover, "it appears that Egypt will finish its campaign earlier and this should benefit our sales. Last year, we overlapped with their campaign and had to wait for their volumes to drop before starting to export," says Antonio Caballero. Egypt and Morocco are the greatest competitors for early Spanish grapes like Sugar One or Superior.
With brands such as TO&PI and TORERO, Antonio will ship its first grapes to Germany, the UK, the Netherlands and the Baltic countries, and to a lesser extent to non-EU countries, such as South Africa or Malaysia. Later they will continue the campaign with varieties such as Crimson, Autumn Royal, Princess and Aledo.
Frutas Torero, along with other entities, forms part of the Professional Organisations of Fruit and Vegetables Hortofrutícola TOPI, which was created to concentrate supply and market larger volumes of stonefruit and table grapes.
For more information:
Antonio Caballero Palazón
O.P.F.H nº 591 Hortofrutícola TOPI
Avenida constitución 15.
30550 Abarán (Murcia). Spain.
T: +34 968 451 536
Publication date: 7/1/2014
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