Unlike last season, when there was a historic delay in the start of the Spanish kiwi season due to heavy rains, the harvest has started normally this year, with production prospects of between 12,500 and 13,000 tonnes, slightly below last year's level due to milder winter temperatures, which resulted in a lower percentage of productive sprouting.
"In late September, the marketing of kiwifruit from Chile, which had a 50% lower production this year, came to an end, and now we have already started the Spanish and Portuguese kiwi season with the Earligreen variety, similar to Hayward in appearance but with lower sugar content and less acid, which is a usual feature of early varieties," says José Carlos Vila, manager of Kiwi Atlántico, Spain's largest kiwi producer and marketer.
"In our case, we will likely not start with the Hayward until late November or early December, and we prefer to harvest a little later than the rest, because our production areas have no risk of frost in autumn and we thus manage to harvest riper fruit, which will allow us to offer a product of high organoleptic quality, which is what we are known for."
In terms of quality, José Carlos Vila affirms that "this summer, unlike in 2013, has been very good for us, since the temperatures have been mild, with rainy days interspersed, along with many other days of heat, which will allow us to harvest fruit of medium-high calibres with a pulp with very high dry matter and Brix at the time of consumption. This will result in us being able to significantly differentiate our fruit in the market."
Last year, Kiwi Atlantic's production exceeded 6,500 tonnes of Spanish and nearly 2,000 tonnes of Portuguese fruit, and although a slight drop in the yield is expected this year, production volumes should increase by 500 tonnes due to the entry into production of new plantations.
Regarding varietal diversification, the Galician company will focus, although with caution, on increasing its gold kiwifruit volumes, and it will also introduce a new variety, which will be tested for the first time this year.
"The gold kiwi issue is moving slowly, as the variety is highly sensitive to PSA disease and we are on our guard," said Vila.
"Nevertheless, we have small volumes of the Soreli variety and we will market the Jin-Tao, which is a very good choice and we will soon be producing again. Also, we are now testing another early gold variety with very good features. We will harvest it for the first time this year and we'll see how it performs. Within 2 to 3 years, we expect to be able to supply good volumes of gold varieties."
Premium Black Label brand to be strengthened at Fruit Attraction
"We have attended Fruit Attraction since the first edition and it is gradually becoming the most important event for us, because it coincides with the beginning of the season and allows us to talk to our clients and attract potential new customers, who are gradually coming from more and more distant countries," explains Vila. "We noticed that even our off-season kiwi suppliers in the Southern Hemisphere visited the fair, which will only make it increasingly more relevant," he adds.Stand of Kiwi Atlántico at Fruit Attraction 2013
This year, Kiwi Atlántico will continue focusing on its Black Label. "We're making progress on some plantations with this concept focused on flavour, and we are also making a great effort in terms of selection, sorting and packaging to help the organoleptic qualities of the product stand out even more, stressing on that characteristic bittersweet taste, typical of acid soil areas where the fruit is harvested in a slightly riper condition."
You can visit Kiwi Atlántico in Hall 9, at the area called "5 a day", just like last year, at stand 9F09B.