Planasa is going to launch its first six blueberry varieties in October 2019. The excellent results of the investment made in the R & D program have led to the development of six commercial blueberry varieties: two ultra-precocious, three very precocious and one of mid-season.
These varieties are being tested in Spain, where they are sparking a lot of interest, as well as in Mexico. However, this year they will only be marketed in Spain, Peru and Portugal through licensees.
"Although there are differences between them, in general these varieties are mainly characterized by their precocity, good firmness and long shelf life. Moreover, the fruit tends to be crunchy, sweet and with an excellent size," explains Gonzalo Artés, Commercial and Marketing Director at Planasa.
There are still no commercial names for these varieties, whose harvest schedules are the following: 15.122, from January to April; 15.45, from late December to March; 15.02, 15.49 and 15.42, from February to April; 15.25, from March to May.
"In addition to precocity, a very good shelf life and high productivity, these new varieties make the harvesting much easier in the case of early varieties. All this translates into a great economic return for agricultural producers," he says. The fact is that Spain's blueberry production mostly concentrates in the months of April, May and June. "We aim for quality fruit to be available all year round. Our goal is to supply it before the production peak of April, so that producers have the chance to take a share of the market," he says.
For the markets, this new program is "contributing to increase the European supply with significant volumes between late December and late March."
According to Gonzalo Artés, this ultra-precocity is not at odds with the taste and appearance demanded by countries that are traditional blueberry consumers in Europe, such as the United Kingdom. In fact, supermarket chains have already shown their interest in the fruit's quality.
The blueberry sector in Spain has experienced rapid growth in recent years. In recent months, important investments have been made in infrastructure and calibration technology, as well as in product packaging. Does the sector need blueberry club varieties?
"Regarding the calibration technology, the introduction of Planasa's varieties has made it possible for us to take a step forward. I don't think that the sector actually needs club varieties, because what we are pursuing at Planasa is a consolidation of licensees in the sector, adding value to the varieties they produce. We seek companies with a tradition; leaders in the production of berries," concludes Gonzalo Artés.