The heat wave is reflected in the supply of kakis this year. The Spanish growers are harvesting more large sizes. Timothy van der Gaag, working for Anecoop in Spain via 4Fruit Company, talks about the start of the new season. Although the company invests in a seasonal extension for the Spanish production, the cooperative has its doubts about the investments of Spanish investors in the Peruvian kaki production.
Although some growers speed up the ripening process of kakis by using ethylene, so that they can be on the market by August, the start of the season is officially in October. This was no different for Anecoop. “Not too early, so that quality of the kakis was good right away,” Timothy says. Early November, about 40 per cent of the product had already been exported. Production is a bit smaller than usual. Anecoop thinks there’s a 15 per cent decrease in volume. The area is stable around 3,000 hectares. While the area had been increasing because citrus growers in Valencia switched to growing kakis in recent years, that trend has now stopped. “Some growers in Valencia are switching now, but they choose different products, pomegranates and kiwi fruit, for example.”
Working for sales
“We reached peak production in the past two weeks,” Timothy says late in October. “We expect a bit less trade per week in November compared to the past two weeks.” Because less volume is available, the mood is positive. The large number of large sizes is challenging, for programmes with one-kilo packaging in particular. The Spanish sector is worried about the extreme weather. “We have to learn to live with it,” Timothy continues, although that doesn’t mean the growers have already given up. “We have to continue investing in new production methods so that we can adapt to new climate circumstances.”
“Total harvest will be about seven or eight per cent higher than last year.” That growth is smaller than expected, which is the result of, among other things, the heatwave from last summer. “Under normal circumstances, the growth would have been much larger.” Consumption-wise, the growth can use a bit of help, Timothy says. “We are of the opinion that we personally have to create room for the larger supply, by means of promotions in countries where kakis are not very well-known yet. We also have to try to convince supermarkets to see kakis as an addition to the fruit category. In France and the UK, that change has already happened. They are no longer considered an exotic in these countries, and demand has risen enormously as a result.”
Seasonal extension in Spain
One way for the market to grow is to have a longer season. Anecoop is one of the companies devoting themselves to this. Due to technical improvements, the export can continue until January and February. “During those months, we have an annual growth of 30 per cent,” Timothy explains. Other Spanish production organisations invest in production overseas in order to set up year-round supply. Anecoop does not. “The Peruvian season starts in April. In that month, the Southern European stone fruit season is already in full swing,” Timothy explains. “We have our doubts about this development, because the market is flooded with new products then, so there isn’t much room for kaki. Besides, we’re not entirely sure whether the Rojo Brillante variety is suitable to the extreme Peruvian climate. After all, it’s a variety that doesn’t always adapt well to all climates.”
Within Europe, the Spanish production has mostly noticed the investments in Italy. “Anecoop also exports a lot to Italy, because quantities there are still limited, but volumes can be noticed on the Italian market,” Timothy says. “We’ve also seen some organic Italian kakis on other markets.” The neighbouring country of Portugal is also dedicating itself to the production of kaki, although that production mostly remains on the domestic market. The Russian boycott that was started three years ago was painful for the growers in Valencia. “It was a very important market. To compensate for this loss, we started exporting to new markets, such as Asia. These markets are very demanding, but also very interesting,” Timothy concludes. In the Netherlands, 4Fruit Company is the exclusive importer of kakis from Anecoop, under the Bouquet label.
Timothy van der Gaag
Lisan van Koppen