“It is clear that Almeria is reducing its tomato acreage. This year, the area devoted to the crop has been 4,000 hectares smaller. Imports from third countries are also putting tomato cultivation under pressure. The rising production costs have motivated some to switch to peppers or eggplant, which require less labor,” says Miguel Ángel Pérez Segura, manager of Quality Fresh.
As for the rumors about the rugged tomato virus (ToBRF), Miguel Ángel says the same as other Almeria-based producers. “In Almería, people are not yet panicking about the virus. It seems that it has only been detected in a farm, and all the necessary and compulsory measures have already been implemented. The virus has not been detected in the neighboring farms; thus, we can say that the necessary measures have been rigorously applied,” he says.
Quality Fresh is a producer and marketer specialized in on the vine cherry tomatoes. “The conditions in our area and our cultivation methods allow us to obtain a unique flavor, as well as a remarkable intense red color. We have chosen an exclusive variety that is also ideal for organic cultivation,” says Miguel Ángel.
“This cherry tomato has a very good reputation in different markets. However, we still have to raise the awareness of buyers and consumers about the added value of European products compared to imports from third countries,” says the manager of Quality Fresh.
“The variety has become very successful. It is a cherry tomato with an intense flavor thanks to the climatic context and our cultivation methods. But we cannot lose sight of the competition,” says Miguel Ángel. “The opening of new markets is vital. We must also convince the consumers about the value of European products. If the Netherlands has opened channels in Singapore and the United Arab Emirates, there are also chances for Spain. Although there are challenges for our logistics and the market today is moving increasingly faster, our company's strength is that we only harvest on demand, thereby guaranteeing the product's freshness,” he says.
“The organic line continues to grow. There is no other choice but to produce and eat in a healthier fashion. Not to mention that implementing these environmentally friendly practices is the only possible way forward; there is no other,” says Miguel Ángel.
"The same applies to the packaging, which we are adapting in order to meet the requirements of both the customer and the consumers. At the moment, the three kilo bulk box is the most popular, as well as the biodegradable plastic packaging and the certified tub or FSC cardboard format. We have to adapt to the demand. A remarkable example is the Grasspaper packaging, 40% of which is made from grass; a requirement from a German customer," says Michelangelo.
For Quality Fresh, Germany remains the largest importer, followed by France. “Although the domestic market is increasingly demanding on the vine cherry tomatoes, especially the organic ones,” says Miguel Ángel.