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Gonçalo Santos Andrade, presidente de Portugal Fresh:

"Portugal: "In the coming years, large blueberry plantations will become productive"

The United Kingdom has been the country with the fastest growth in the consumption of berries in recent years. In 2016, Portugal exceeded 117 million Euro worth of berry exports, 90% of which were raspberries; however, the outlook is rapidly changing, as large areas have been planted with blueberries (and continue to be planted) which will start bearing fruit in the coming years.

"Just like in Spain, Portuguese growers have now their sights set on blueberries and the fruit's acreage has expanded. It is therefore expected that a considerable number of new plantations will become productive in the coming years. This year, we have already seen the pressure on prices of a thriving supply," explained Gonçalo Santos Andrade, new president of Portugal Fresh, the Association for the Promotion of Fruits, Vegetables and Flowers of Portugal.

Gonçalo Santos Andrade and Catarina Ravara, at their Portugal Fresh stand in the London Produce Show 2017.

"We have noticed that prices are lower this year compared to the previous season. Competition is getting tougher every year, as the supply increases, and labour costs are high, accounting for more than 50% of the total costs. Finding trained pickers is another of the biggest challenges for those devoted to the cultivation of berries, and which will determine the growth of this sector in Portugal," points out Gonçalo Santos.

Portugal Fresh was present for the first time in the recent edition of the London Produce Show. The fact is that the United Kingdom accounts for 30% of the value of Portugal's fruit and vegetable exports, making it the third most important destination. The three most important fresh produce exports in terms of value are oranges, Rocha pears and berries. Portugal has recorded significant growth in its fruit and vegetable exports over the last 6 years. While the value of its shipments in 2010 stood at around 780 million Euro, in 2016, exports reached a value of more than 1,300 million Euro, representing an annual growth of 10%.

In the words of Gonçalo Santos, "export markets are very important for us. The total turnover from fruits, vegetables and flowers amounts to 2,300 million Euro, so our country exports more than 55% of what it produces. We have promotional activities in 12 different countries, and this year we have attended the London Produce Show for the first time in order to learn about the profile of the fair's visitors and assess whether it would be interesting for other companies in the association to participate."

"Brexit will be a challenge for everyone. I think there is a lot of speculation. We still have to wait and see how the events will develop, but we can assure that we will continue to bet on this market and on Europe in general. I believe there needs to be a position of understanding," he concludes.

For more information:
Gonçalo Santos Andrade
Portugal Fresh
T: +351 917884188

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