In a week, the Galician company Kiwi Atlántico, Spain's largest producer of this fruit, will harvest the first kiwis of the earliest variety, the Early Green; a green kiwi with low levels of acidity and a slightly lower Brix than that of the Hayward.
"The early varieties will arrive with a slight seven day delay due to the later flowering, caused by the rainy weather and lack of cold temperatures," explains José Carlos Vila, Manager of Kiwi Atlántico. "Last year we had an extra rainy season, with losses in production volumes as a result of some issues with botrytis, but this year the flowering has been good and we expect a truly satisfactory quality."
The Summer Kiwi harvest is expected to start ten days later; a variety which, along with the Early Green, is mainly exported to countries in Central Europe, Latin America and Canada. Finally, November will be time for the Hayward harvest, which will be stored in chambers for its sales up until May in the domestic market.
"During the off-season we import from Chile, and since last year, also from Uruguay, where we started planting three years ago. Our goal is to continue increasing our production, supplying kiwis all year round, and for this it is necessary to own plantations in both hemispheres."
Damages by PSA bacteria in Spain
Over the past four years, numerous kiwi plantations have started producing in Spain, but the PSA bacteria, which have already caused multi-million losses all over the world, swept away all yellow kiwi crops. "For this reason, we currently do not have yellow kiwi in Spain and we need to start all over again. Kiwi Atlántico has invested on 100 new hectares for kiwis which will soon become productive. But at national level, we estimate that the production could increase by around 10%," affirms José Carlos Vila.
"The bacteria initially caught us off guard; the illness, which in Spain's case affects only the flower and leaves, can be controlled through crop sanitation and prevention. This year we started planting new yellow varieties imported from Italy and we hope they will resist it."
Current and future situation of prices
Prices improved last season as a result of Europe's lack of supply; consequently, "we expect them to remain the same or even slightly improve compared to last year," states Carlos. "The problem is that the current economic situation is complicated; therefore, if prices increase too much, we notice a switch in demand towards other products. I believe that in four or five years, prices will constantly improve, because even if production volumes grow, consumption levels will also increase in emerging markets from Asia, Latin America and the Middle East."
Spain: a great kiwi consumer
Kiwi consumption in Spain currently stands at around 140,000 tonnes per year, 80,000 of which are consumed during the Northern Hemisphere season, producing approximately 12,000 tonnes per year.
"Unlike other European kiwis, Spanish kiwis are characterised by their sweet flavour while being consumed with a final sour aftertaste; something very similar to New Zealand's kiwis. Italian and Greek fruit is rougher and more astringent because it needs to be harvested earlier and does not reach the sweetness levels of Spanish kiwis."
Once again at Fruit Attraction
This year, Kiwi Atlántico will once again have its own stand at Madrid's fair Fruit Attraction, to take place between 16 and 18 October and where it will present its own brand under which its more Premium products will be sold.