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J. Vicente Llarios, of Yacufrut: "Asia demands increasingly more kakis"

Is it a good idea to have kakis available all year round?

"Tomorrow we will start harvesting the first Rojo Brillante kakis, which will be available in the market from next week," explains producer and exporter Jose Vicente Llario Cuquerella, manager of the Valencian company, Yacufrut.

We expect to handle around 3 million kilos of kakis this season, which are mainly intended for export markets, mainly France, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Italy, and this year we are launching a program with shipments to the United Arab Emirates for the entire campaign. Its brands are Cuquefruit Gold and Martina Premium.

Brothers Jose Vicente and Fernando Llario with grandfather Jose Cuquerella.

Yacufrut has its origins in 1960, the year when Cuquefrut was founded by Jose Cuquerella. In those years, the company was devoted to the production and marketing of stone fruit from Murcia and Valencia, as well as Aledo table grapes. It was in 2013 when his grandchildren Jose Vicente and Fernando founded Yacufrut, which continues to market stone fruit and has switched from Aledo table grapes to kakis in the autumn and winter months, becoming specialists in this fruit. "We owe all our knowledge to our grandfather and teacher Mr Jose Cuquerella Boluda, who is still with us; he has taught us everything," says his grandson Jose Vicente with admiration.

We start our campaign in April with stone fruit produced in Valencia and Murcia and continue with kakis in autumn, finishing in late February. This has been, according to Jose Vicente, "the worst stone fruit campaign that I have ever known." For now, it is still difficult to make predictions for the kaki campaign, which is about to begin, "but the markets, now tired of summer fruit, are already impatient to receive this product."

Is it a good idea to have kakis available all year round?
According to Jose Vicente, the Spanish Kaki Association, of which Yacufrut is a member, is currently searching for varieties that can make it possible to extend the campaigns at the beginning and the end, so that kakis can stay for longer on the shelves of European supermarkets.

"We have tried working with varieties such as the Tom Guasch or Sharoni, but consumers prefer the Rojo Brillante. Any new variety should therefore look as much as possible like the Rojo Brillante," affirms the producer and exporter.

At the same time, they are already starting to produce kakis in Peru for their shipment to Europe, looking to cover the Spanish off-season.

"We are very interested in visiting these plantations in Peru, where we have good friends who have invited us to see their farms. Kakis are a very new crop there and they require very specific management skills to ensure they reach the consumer in the perfect condition that makes them so desirable; it is not easy. The idea is to be able to ship kakis from Peru to Europe during the months of May, June and July, but, in my opinion, it is essential to bear in mind that we'll face strong competition from stone fruit, so I don't think it is viable for kakis to be available during those months. The European market is frequently seeking season changes," points out Jose Vicente Llario Cuquerella.

Asia, a possible solution to the oversupply
The average price tends to fall due to the increasing supply, so, according to Jose Vicente, "we must be careful in the coming years." Our strategy is to keep growing, but little by little. The issue of prices is resulting in growing concerns in the sector."

That is why Asia is emerging as an increasingly interesting destination for Spanish exporters, pending the eventual signing of a protocol with China.

"We see a growing demand for kakis in Asia, which is starting to realise that in Spain we know how to work with this product very well. We have been shipping to Hong Kong and Singapore for two years. We want to be careful when it comes to growing in these markets, since there are many risks due to the long distance (35 days until the product reaches the consumer). They pay very well for the high quality fruit, but you have to do things right or you'll be severely punished. We are ready, but we are moving forward very slowly," he points out.

Moreover, Jose Vicente believes that kakis still need more promotion. "We realise that many of our customers still have to explain to their consumers what a kaki is."

For more information:
Jose Vicente Llario Cuquerella
Fernando Llario Cuquerella
Jos? Cuquerella Boluda
T: +34 962920107
M: +34 699082452 (Jos? Vicente)

Publication date: 9/15/2017


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