Spain: Extremadura has already shipped 400 tonnes of plums to China

Extremadura's plums have reached China. The shipments that departed last August have started to arrive over the last ten days in what is the first incursion of European stonefruit into the Asian giant, after the export of plums, nectarines and peaches from EU countries was authorised. So far, about 400 tonnes of plums from Extremadura have been shipped to the Asian market and containers are expected to continue leaving throughout the month of September, when the bulk of the campaign will come to an end.

The deadlines have worked against both nectarines and peaches and the first shipments are expected to be made next year, as this summer it has not been possible, given that the authorisation came when the campaign was already well underway. In any case, plums have not been free of setbacks, mainly because the season has been hit by a winter with some unusual weather conditions and by the Russian veto and its impact on red plums, which has forced the Ministry of Agriculture to enforce exceptional measures. "It's been a very complicated season as far as quality is concerned due to the winter weather conditions," states Miguel Ángel Gómez, manager of the Fruit Growers Association of Extremadura (Afruex).

Shipments are being carried out in containers with a capacity of 20,000 kilos of fruit, and between 15 and 18 of these have already departed since 1 August. "We will now have to see how the product is received by the Chinese consumer," points out the head of Afruex, which insists on the fact that producers in the region must remain cautious in this first year of exports to China. There is still a month of activity ahead and during the month of September we expect "significant volumes to depart bound to Shanghai," mostly of varieties that have yet to be harvested.

The agreement that has enabled Europe to start exporting stonefruit to China was approved in July after three years of negotiations. The authorisation is making it possible to ship plums, peaches and nectarines and is a crucial agreement for the region, because Extremadura is the main producer of plums in Spain, with more than 90,000 tonnes per year, and one of the most important regions in the world, together with some in Chile, which already export to China and the United States.

To strengthen ties, an Extremaduran delegation travelled to Shanghai on Saturday to start a trade mission that will also take it to Hong Kong on Friday 9 September. "This is important to give a boost to the protocol," stressed Gómez when talking about the visit to China.


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