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Dramatic top fruit year for Sweden

The top fruit season in Sweden will be recorded as ‘dramatic.’ The harvest was damaged by frost in spring. Supermarkets offer more room for class II product, but trade isn’t always satisfied with that. In recent years, investments were made to improve the presentation of the top fruit. Was it all for nothing? Niclas Johansson from Elsanta talks about the investment in an optical sorting machine and the disappointing harvest this year.

Niclas Johansson from Elsanta.

As the name Elsanta suggests, strawberries are originally the most important product group within the company’s assortment. To spread out the risks, the assortment was expanded with other products, including Swedish top fruit. It started with a packing station in the southeast of Sweden, right between the top fruit growers. When a plantation was put up for sale, Elsanta purchased the orchard. The acquirement of another orchard followed. Next season, the total area will consist of 115 hectares, with a yield of four million kilos. “We mostly have the old varieties. Thanks to new planting, we want to increase production to five million kilos,” Niclas explains. “The goal is to harvest more than six million kilos of apples and pears.”

More attention to presentation
“We don’t grow the same varieties as import apples,” says Niclas. “We would have the same product, and we then wouldn’t be able to compete.” AroMa, Cox Orange, Ingrid Marie, Alice Discovery are some varieties grown in Sweden. For the Swedish pear cultivation is hardly any room. Belgium and the Netherlands are well established with Conference in Scandinavia. “But we are one of the biggest producers  whit varieties  like Clara Frijs, H.Elsa and A. Lukas.”

The apples are all sold on the local market. In 2013, Elsanta invested in an optical sorting machine from France, which lifted the segment to a higher level. “With a nicer presentation of the Swedish apples we also managed to improve price levels. The Swedish apples have a value for Swedish supermarkets, but thanks to the sorting machine we were able to add more value.” The class I apples are supplied in one-layered crates. “Whit PLU stickers we are also able to pack 1 to 2 kg bags directly from the sorting line, less coloured fruit  is sold loose in plastic crates.”

Class II in supermarkets
Although Elsanta has its own storage, the company tries to market the apples during the season. That season was very disappointing this year. “We supplied more class II to supermarkets this year,” Niclas says. The large chains have lowered the requirements for the fruit in order to guarantee sufficient volume. “We are still harvesting  but the prognoses for this year in Swedish fruit are about 30 per cent less production and out of the remaining 70 per cent more or less half of it has frost damages and will be sold as cat II.”

In the warehouse it quickly becomes apparent Elsanta doesn’t just market top and soft fruit. Turkish figs, pomegranates and special peppers are stacked on pallets. During the season, cherries are also imported from Turkey. “We have to specialise, so we also started with Turkish products. It’s difficult to import from Turkey, but we can buy large volumes.” Last year, 14 lorries with figs were marketed by the company, and for this season, Elsanta has booked nearly 700 tonnes of pomegranates.

For more information:
Niclas Johansson
Knut Påls v. 15
256 69 Helsingborg
T: +46 (0) 42 311 13 30

Publication date: 10/24/2017
Author: Rudolf Mulderij
Copyright: www.freshplaza.com


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