10% of the total strawberry production expected this campaign has already been harvested, a lower figure than in the previous one, according to the Association of Producers and Exporters of Strawberries from Huelva (Freshuelva).
The current harvest season started with delays in the production compared to the previous campaign, mostly due to the weather and the drop in the minimum temperatures.
This, however, was not the only reason, as there were also problems with the mother plant's cultivation, which is carried out in Castile-León, and whose start was delayed due to heavy rains. Thus, the plant reached the greenhouses of Huelva without first having reached the necessary degree of development, which took a toll on the production in the first months.
During the month of January, the production stood almost 30% below that reached on the same date last year, as reported by the manager of Freshuelva, Rafael Domínguez.
The accumulated delay has been reflected in the results of the first six weeks of this year; that is, until February 15, with the production reaching just 10% of the total expected. Taking the marketed volume into account, this is 15% less than in the same period of 2018.
As a result of the reduction of the supply, the price of strawberries in January increased by between 6 and 10%, although this had little impact on what the producer received. As for this month, the figures are so far similar to those recorded last year.
Domestic market, France and Italy
The main destinations for Huelva's fruit have so far been the Spanish domestic market, France and Italy, and some small quantities have been shipped to Germany, where Fruit Logistica was held just a few days ago. The event was attended by Freshuelva and twelve associated companies with their own stand.
From now on, the association of producers and exporters expects the demand to increase in a staggered way in Germany and other Central European countries, coinciding with the increase in the production, which will start to grow from now on as the temperatures rise.
When it comes to raspberries, and taking the previous campaigns as reference, the marketed volume so far amounts to 26% of the total expected production. Despite the reduction of the supply, the price of raspberries stands well below last year's.
The sector shows its concern about the consequences of Brexit in the United Kingdom
Freshuelva has shown its concern about the outcome of the Brexit negotiations, due to the impact this could have on the export of Huelva's berries. According to the manager of the association, a no-deal Brexit situation would entail the imposition of tariffs for strawberries, raspberries and blueberries, as well as greater competition from third countries to sign agreements with the United Kingdom. The UK is actually the main destination for Huelva's berries, absorbing almost 40% of the total volume.
In addition to Brexit, another issue is the competition from Morocco, which is accused of competing in an unfair manner, since its exports are tariff-free and are not subject to the same phytosanitary requirements and protocols. Moreover, the cost of labor is cheaper, which translates into lower prices. Consequently, Huelva's red fruit sector is setting its sights on new markets, including China, India and the Middle East.