After years of research and heavy investments, the second-degree cooperative Onubafruit, one of the largest European berry producers, based in Huelva, hopes to revolutionize the European blueberry market and has announced that it already has its own exclusive blueberry variety program with a production schedule from November to mid-July.
"Our clients will no longer need to import blueberries from South Africa, Peru, Chile or Argentina in the months of November and December," says Francisco Sánchez, manager of Onubafruit. “From now on, we will be able to offer our customers a complete range with six different new varieties of ultra-early, early, mid-season and late blueberries with the flavor, texture and size they need. All from a single supplier for 9 months, and with unlimited volumes,” he says.
The first productions are expected in November this year, although full capacity will be reached in the next two years.
“We have great prospects for this project and the progression will be exponential. By 2020, we will have some 30,000 plants; in 2021, this figure will increase to around 250,000 plants, and by 2022 we'll have reached at least 10 million plants. Customers will be able to order blueberries à la carte, without limits," says the manager of this company,
"The coronavirus crisis will worsen and this sector will have a hard time"
The berry sector in Spain has been going through very tough times since the start of the coronavirus crisis. “The demand has plummeted and market options have been reduced with the closing of borders at the time of peak production for our crops, which are the months of April and May. In these months, we also expect more competition from other products, such as stone fruit and cherries, as well as from the berry harvests of the countries of central and northern Europe. The truth is that the prospects are not encouraging at all. Some will be able to deal with the situation better than others, depending on their capacity and professionalism, but I think the sector is going to have a very hard time," says Francisco Sánchez. In addition to Europe, Onubafruit has a significant and growing presence in Asian markets. "Flights to Hong Kong are canceled, as well as to Singapore; cities in which there is no COVID-19 impact, although there are no flights for most of Asia," he says.
“These are times in which European countries are leaning more towards the consumption of local products, as can be seen in France, the United Kingdom, Germany or even Portugal. The question is: why are blueberries imported from third countries if they can be imported from Spain; that is, from Europe? The coronavirus situation will continue to worsen and there will most likely be full lockdowns in all countries. Meanwhile, Onubafruit will have to stand for 1,000 producers and their respective families, who depend on these crops. It is not the time for each European country to look out just for its own good; it is the time for us to help each other so that we can all get through this. We hope that our clients understand that we are going to need all the help we can get.”