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Balanced market for strawberries, without production peaks and with higher prices than usual:

"Downward trend in raspberry cultivation continues due to low profitability"

The Spanish strawberry season is currently at its peak, although excessive rainfall has resulted in a lower supply than usual for this time of the year. Meanwhile, raspberries remain barely profitable for producers in Huelva despite their high prices, and interest in the crop is waning. Blueberry production is on the rise in Spain and the peak is expected to be reached in May.

"The strawberry campaign is already in full swing, a season that has been heavily marked by the water supply. Firstly, by the uncertainty caused by the severe drought of 2023 and subsequent restrictions on irrigation, and later, by the excess rainfall at the beginning of this year," says Carlos Esteve, commercial director of Onubafruit.

"The historic lack of water in Huelva led growers to consider changes in their planting strategies and to invest more in a more efficient use of this resource, but abundant rainfall has replenished the reservoirs, which are at higher levels than last year, although still below the average of the last ten years. Thus, the uncertainty that producers were subject to when planning their crops has dissipated," says Carlos Esteve.

"However, the greater than usual amount of rainfall since the beginning of 2024 has caused numerous quality issues in strawberries and, therefore, a drop in the production volumes, as a lot of fruit could not be marketed for several weeks," says the commercial director of Onubafruit.

"At the beginning of the year, prices are always high, and they fall as the supply increases, but this year, there has been a great balance between supply and demand after Easter, without the usual production peaks and, therefore, higher prices than usual," he says.

It remains to be seen how it will go with the transition from the Spanish strawberry campaign to those of the European countries to which it exports. "A few days ago, it looked like the harvests in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, France, or Germany were going to start earlier, but temperatures have dropped again, and bad weather has returned," says Carlos Esteve, who also says that "the Spanish strawberry campaign will surely finish with lower volumes than expected, although in the case of Onubafruit, we hope to slightly increase our production since we have expanded the plantations."

Downward trend in raspberry cultivation continues due to low profitability
The raspberry production continues reaching its peak in terms of volume between mid-February and late May. This year, the Spanish supply is lower than last year and is expected to continue falling next year.

"Both in Spain and Morocco, the production has been affected by bad weather in autumn and winter, and prices have been quite high. At this time, they are still high, and there is still a good demand ahead of the peak production period," says Carlos Esteve.

"However, the acreage devoted to raspberry cultivation continues to decline in Spain and other countries, as growers are taking great risks due to the high costs of infrastructure or harvesting. Low productions like this year's greatly reduce the crop's profitability, so although prices are higher, they are still not profitable enough for producers in many cases. That's why it's becoming increasingly difficult for us to convince our producers to continue betting on the crop," says the commercial director of Onubafruit.

The peak of the blueberry campaign has yet to be reached
Regarding blueberries, a part of Onubafruit's younger plantations have made it possible to produce 2,000 tons more at the beginning of the campaign compared to last year.

"The peak of the campaign has yet to be reached. That should happen from the end of this month," says Carlos Esteve. "The supply from the southern hemisphere has been lower than usual, so we have started the campaign with less overlap and less competition, keeping a good commercial momentum."

"It is true that production is on the rise globally, and there is supply all year round. But it is worth noting that consumption also continues to increase and settle. Blueberries are still relatively new, but their quality has improved a lot, and their price is more competitive, so the product is very well suited for promotions, and consumption is very positively influenced by this," says Carlos Esteve.

This year, Onubafruit plans to produce and market around 24,000 tons of strawberries, about 20,000 tons of blueberries and approximately 8,500 tons of raspberries. These will be mainly distributed in European markets.

For more information:
Onubafruit S.Coop.And.
Tel.: +34 959 540 844
Email: [email protected]

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