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Juan José Ollero, technical director of Soloberry:
"The day we manage to bring costs down, blueberry consumption will soar"
For the past four years, Soloberry has been involved in the Early Blue project, a program centred on Australian blueberry varieties which barely require any cold hours, allowing the plant to be continuously blooming and giving fruit, as long as the conditions are right.
"With good management, and if the weather allows it, we expect to have up to two annual harvests in some locations where the climatic conditions are suitable. This campaign, we started to harvest Earlyblue in November in some places, so it is clear that they are extra early varieties," explains Juan José Ollero, technical director of Soloberry.
For now, they have a range of 15 varieties, out of which only 5 have been selected because of their precocity, shelf life, appearance and flavour. They complete their distribution schedule with the import of blueberries from South America.
According to Juan José Ollero, the Spanish blueberry production reaches its peak especially in the months of April and May, with varieties such as Star, which is creating a feeling of oversupply in the sector.
"There are still many gaps to fill in the months of February, March and a bit in June. For this reason, we focus on early varieties, for which both prices and profit margins are really good. Furthermore, we believe that demand is going to continue increasing considerably across Europe."
According to the producer and exporter, the retail price of blueberries is still too high at some points in the campaign, and this may currently represent the fruit's biggest limitation. "The day we find the formula to bring production costs down, consumption will soar, leaving other products behind."
"Focusing on the Spanish market is the next step in the medium term. We have observed that it is a product that Spanish people really like and I think that consumption will grow significantly in Spain, especially among children," he affirms.
At the recent Fruit Logistica, Rachel Montague-Ebbs, supply chain director at Soloberry, outlined the expectations and future plans for Earlyblue, which has already been registered as a trademark (EarlyBlue ™). Rachel will present this brand at the next edition of Fruit Attraction, in October.
Publication date: 2/16/2017
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