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Start of Monterosa tomato campaign with an empty market
"Domestic market will be key for Spanish tomatoes in future"
The harvest of Monterosa specialty tomatoes, the summer tomato available in winter, started two weeks ago in Almeria, although volumes are still limited.
"We have faced many difficulties due to the high temperatures recorded since we planted the tomatoes in July, with an excessive drop of flowers. Because of this, and given that the calibres are currently small, yields will not be as high as expected. It is difficult to have availability of a variety all year round," explains Francesc Llonch, manager of Kopalmería, of Gavā Grup.
According to Francesc, "given that it is a semi-traditional product, sales are considerably affected. There is a lot of local production in Europe, so it has not been a very good month. However, September has so far been very good, as prices are going up in the Netherlands and Belgium, where the local campaigns are coming to an end, and Morocco and Spain have not yet started, leaving a production gap that speeds up sales. However, this won't last longer than perhaps two more weeks, since in early October there will be product available in Spain and Morocco."
In order to stagger its campaign and prevent oversupply, the Monterosa is following a new strategy as of this year. "Last year, we planted between 15 August and 15 September, while this year we started planting in early, mid and late July, and so on in August, September and October in order to avoid production peaks and obtain a better quality. "Last year, we had huge production peaks between January and February that made our sales very difficult and we don't want this to happen again," points out Francesc Llonch.
In the previous campaign, they had 100 hectares of crops, and this year the acreage will drop to 85 hectares, although the production volume will be similar to last year's, about 11 million kilos, since, unlike last year, for now there have been not been any floods or substantial losses caused by bortritis.
This tomato specialty, a cross between an indigenous Catalan variety and the Italian Costoluto Genovese, which represents the Mediterranean flavour of the tomatoes that are traditionally harvested in the warm summer months, has already been marketed for four seasons, in which they have entered with force in markets such as the Spanish, Italian, Swiss, French, Polish, Baltic and Balkan. "Although we are achieving this gradually, gaining access to traditional markets like France and Germany is more complicated, since they are not very open to new concepts. Growth in Spain and Poland has been overwhelming, with presence in most supermarket chains," he states.
According to Francesc, the Spanish market will be key in the coming years, as "tomato exports are gradually reduced, because more countries have their own production for a longer time. This factor is rapidly having an impact on the structure of the agricultural sector.
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Publication date: 9/22/2017
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