The demand for dried figs has been experiencing significant growth in recent times, with changes in the type of consumer who buys them. Although it is a traditional product, always very popular among the elderly, the food is starting to become fashionable among the younger population, as reported by Plus Berries, which has added dried figs to its product catalog this year.
"Its powerful nutritional value entails a very high energy supply, which is why they are ideal for athletes," says Ismael Cabanillas, from Caver, a Plus Berries group company that is responsible for the production of these figs. “The growth in the consumption of healthy products also explains this trend change, as dried figs have important health benefits. They are a great source of fiber, which makes them ideal for those with constipation problems, as it improves intestinal transit while avoiding the risk of contracting diseases such as diabetes. They also contain magnesium, potassium and calcium, which improve the functioning of the muscles, as well as the nerves. They are also ideal to maintain good iron levels, and their high calcium content is perfect for keeping bones in perfect condition. Therefore, it is a product that combines the characteristics of a snack and a superfood.”
Most of the figs that Plus Berries handles are grown in the Spanish regions of Extremadura, Andalusia, Castile-La Mancha and Castile-León, and the main varieties are the Calabacita and the Cuello de Dama. "These producing areas are able to deliver the quality that our customers demand," says Ismael Cabanillas. “The varieties we use are dried on the tree. The area's climatic conditions, with high temperatures during the harvest months, make it possible to harvest these varieties dry. This natural process guarantees a non-invasive ripening, without fruit stress, and allows our customers to enjoy all the nuances in the flavor of our product.”
Although this is the first year that Plus Berries has been marketing dried figs, the company has years of experience in the growing and marketing of fresh figs. “A new production line has been set up for this new product, operated by staff with extensive previous experience when it comes to product knowledge and its preparation. The idea was to be able to overcome the challenges that were ahead of us when the project was launched. This has allowed us to face the start of the campaign with the best guarantees in terms of quality and service,” says Ismael.
"Parallelly, we also produce fig paste with specific equipment; a product that is used by traditional confectioners and industrial biscuit companies, and for the production of dietary products rich in fiber and a host of new applications," he says.
Plus Berries distributes the dried figs both in Spain and in other European countries, where it competes strongly against Turkey. According to Ismael, “it is a highly demanded product around the world. Turkey is a big competitor, but our figs can coexist with theirs in many markets as long as we offer a differentiated product. Turkey is the largest exporter of dried figs, given its superior production capacity, but the Calabacita fig has its own niche, and this is growing every year. It is a variety that, unlike those supplied by Turkey, has thin skin, a honey-like pulp, a sweeter taste and a smaller size. It is cheaper than other commercial varieties, since it does not reach such high calibers, and these differences mean that it has potential to continue growing. Personally, it's the one I like the most. The Cuello de Dama variety is more popular and can reach calibers similar to those of the Turkish Smyrna variety, although smaller.”
The packaging plant is equipped to pack all kinds of formats: tubs, bags, flow packs, filmed, heat-sealed, etc., which are marketed under their AUTENTIGOS brand. "We demand high quality from ourselves, selecting the figs already at origin and handling them during the packaging process with true devotion," says Ismael Cabanillas.
For more information:
Parque Científico y Tecnológico de Huelva. Edificio 2000
C/ Caucho 1, 21110 Aljaraque · Huelva, Spain
T: +34 639 13 66 45