The Union of Small Agricultural Producers (UPA) of Huelva has denounced the "dominant position" of industrial processors over strawberry producers, since "they take advantage of the need to sell and place the production in storage without paying a reasonable price for the same."
During the campaign, from January to June, the strawberry sector usually allocates around 80 million kilos of strawberries of smaller size and/or with defects in their appearance to the processing industry, as reported by UPA in a statement.
This is a considerable volume, even though "selling to the processing industry is by no means a viable alternative for the producer. UPA Huelva has thus confirmed that the industrial sector takes advantage of the need to sell and place this product in storage."
Furthermore, UPA Huelva has denounced that this commercial relationship is carried out, in most cases, "without the signing of a contract setting the conditions for the fruit's sale (price, quantity and delivery period)."
"This means that, in practice, many growers deliver their strawberries in the hope of selling them at a reasonable price, which never happens," they said.
The processing sector acts in the following way: from January to June, producers supply their strawberries and the industry starts filling its storage chambers. Depending on how this goes, the industry then urges the growers to continue producing in order to fill up those chambers, and at the end of the campaign, the industry is in a position to set the price that best suits it for the entire harvest.
In addition to this, the industry doesn't pay at the time of the harvest or at the end of the campaign, but between August and September, with the consequent financial damage for the producer, who doesn't know what price they are going to get until the end of the campaign, and whether this price will actually cover the production costs.
UPA-Huelva has recommended the growers to negotiate the price prior to the fruit's delivery to the industry, and for the conditions to be written in a contract.