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Miguel Abril, of Anecoop: "Intenzza is not the definitive variety"
Spain: "We have gone from 8 to 35 partnered papaya producers this year"Spain is gaining ground as a producer and supplier of papayas in Europe and the future is currently promising for this crop, which is marketed as a proximity product. The fact is that Spain is able to produce it on the coasts of Malaga, Granada, Almeria and Murcia, as well as in the Canary Islands, which have the ideal micro climatic characteristics for the production of exotic fruits.
With a harvest forecast of 2,000 tonnes this year, Anecoop accounts for more than half of the papayas that are produced in Spain. "We have gone from 8 producers in February last year to more than 35 members today, all part of our association Exoticos del Sur," explains Miguel Abril, commercial director of Anecoop. "Last year, we limited the maximum number of customers to be able to guarantee them a continuous supply. This year, we are therefore adding more clients to the portfolio, as we have a greater volume available. For now, all customers are still working with us, which shows that it is a successful product," he says.
The project is part of the Bouquet Exotic brand, which was created to supply the European market with exotic and tropical fruits, avoiding shipments by plane and therefore reducing the CO2 footprint. This line of exotic products includes mangoes, avocados, papayas, pomegranates, figs and medlar. "We are also carrying out tests, both productive and commercial, with fruits such as pitahaya, physalis and passion fruit, and we are doing this from our experimental farm UAL-Anecoop, in Almeria," explains the commercial director.
However, papayas are the product that helps Anecoop stand out from other companies with exotic programs, since there are no other projects of this size in Spain. "Our producers are based mainly in the areas of Almeria and Murcia, whose climate makes them ideal for the cultivation of papayas in greenhouses. The majority of papaya producers use greenhouses that they previously used to grow vegetables. We have advised them to cultivate papayas as an alternative to horticultural crops," says Miguel Abril.
About 80% of Anecoop's papayas are exported, with Germany being the country showing the most interest in this product at the moment. "At this time, it is impossible for us to guess how the papaya market will develop and whether they are going to equal the popularity of avocados. The fruit has its place in the market and it could grow if we work on adequate varietal improvement. At the moment, we are focusing on the Intenzza variety, which is the one with the best qualities in terms of productivity and taste; however, we believe that it is not the definitive variety. There are varieties from the Southern Hemisphere with which we work in the off-season (between August and October) with better characteristics and that is the benchmark on which our R&D work is based. The presentation of the papayas can also have an impact on their future growth. We sell them whole or cut with lime juice, which enhances its flavour."
According to Miguel Abril, "Spanish producers are generally very dynamic and quite brave, very eager to find alternatives, although this can be done in different ways. We flee from miraculous solutions that can lead to overproduction and oversupply issues. There are producers who have tried papaya cultivation and have already abandoned it, mainly because the crop's management is more difficult here than in tropical countries. We are convinced that the Spanish papaya has a future, but only within a well-constructed project at a productive level and with a well-defined marketing strategy."
Publication date: 1/18/2018
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