The contact group for strawberries from France, Italy, Spain and Portugal, formed by representatives of the associations of producers and exporters of these countries, including Freshuelva-FEPEX, met on Wednesday 19 in Agen, France, where they looked into the campaign forecasts and crop area estimates.
The heads of Freshuelva and FEPEX reported that the strawberry acreage in Huelva will go from last season's 6,095 hectares to 6,217 in the current one; 2% more. The representatives of Italy said that the acreage in 2020 will stand at 3,646 hectares; 4% less than last season, while France will have the same acreage as in 2019, with 3,300 hectares. However, it was said that yields may vary significantly between the three major EU countries, depending on the exploitation model. For example, in France, 1,900 hectares out of the total 3,300 correspond to greenhouse farms, 60% of which are heated, allowing the strawberry production to expand and making it possible for French fruit to be on the market practically all year round.
The three delegations agreed in their interest in cooperating more intensely in the phytosanitary field, especially in adopting a common position to guarantee the availability of phytosanitary products that are necessary in the fight against pests.
It was agreed to urge administrations to guarantee the critical use of phytosanitary products and to protect the crop's economic and social sustainability. It was also suggested that non-EU products exported to the EU should meet the same phytosanitary standards that apply to EU products. There should also be a rigorous enforcement of labeling standards, especially as regards the origin of the product.
From the point of view of the demand, it has observed that, in general, there has been an improvement of the varieties grown in recent years. Lastly, it was also revealed that there are growing concerns in the three countries when it comes to covering the crop's labor needs, as it is very labor intensive.