Although preparations for the new Portuguese grape season are already underway, looking back at the previous season there were lots of challenges to deal with, says Susana Ferreira, marketing director of Vale da Rosa.
“In Portugal, our season starts at the end of June and runs until October/November. For now our export markets can be found in Europe. Poland, France and the Netherlands are the main buyers of our exported grapes. Last year was a year full of challenges. The sudden rise in all the costs involved in grape production crushed the margins practiced. In any case, and as always, our focus has remained on quality. We are learning to be more efficient with what we have and it is in these difficult times that we must improve. Fortunately, we were able to achieve our goals and we can consider it a positive year despite the challenges.”
Although Vale da Rosa already exports a wide variety of grapes, they are still trying to innovate as a company, Ferreira explains. “Autumn Crisp is a recent, but a very promising variety. And so are the Sweet Globe, Sweet Celebration, Timpson and Allison varieties. We continue to plant new grape varieties, renovating our planted area and increasing production. We’re also working on new, more sustainable and environmentally friendly packaging proposals. In terms of sales, we are in the process of opening new markets, increasing the total export percentage of what we produce.”
To solve a lack of available workers in the area that Vale Da Rosa operates in, the grape exporter is working hard on bringing families to the region: “We’re also committed to dedicating greater attention to industrialization, giving emphasis to the project we already have for the production of raisins and many other derivative products. Also with regard to human resources management, one of our biggest challenges is the search and retention of people, for this we created the Vale da Rosa Foundation. The main goal is to bring families to our region, Ferreira do Alentejo, in the south of Portugal, that can guarantee stability of human resources in our company and contribute to local development,” Ferreira concludes.