The cold snap and rainy weather of the last few weeks hampered the grape and stone fruit harvest in Italy and Spain, which was already affected by Corona. FreshPlaza spoke with Jennifer Heer from SanLucar about the current status of their production.
Red apricots. Photo: SanLucar
Rising costs due to Corona
"Due to the Corona situation, costs have increased significantly to ensure all hygiene and safety measures are met. Our goal is to continue to provide the population with the best fruits and vegetables in the usual premium quality. Due to the bad weather in the last weeks and months, a crop loss of peaches and nectarines of 25% in Spain and 46% in Italy is expected. Fortunately, our fields were not so badly affected by the hail," says Heer.
Given these circumstances, Heer therefore notes, "The bad weather in Germany has reduced demand for peaches and nectarines. This makes it difficult to get higher prices so that farmers can compensate for their crop losses. To ensure that we can offer the premium quality we are used to, we will focus more on quality control and selection of the produce."
Good grape season
Things are already looking better in this regard with regard to grapes. "A good season is expected for the Italian grape season in terms of quantity and quality. However, the start of harvest will be somewhat delayed due to bad weather. We currently expect to start in early July."
SanLucar has a special position in the fruit and vegetable industry as a registered brand. According to Heer, the response from retailers has been extremely positive, as evidenced in no small part by the retailer-to-customer ratio: "SanLucar retailers have the highest demands for premium quality and know that they can offer their customers real added value with the SanLucar brand. We place great value on products with flavor that are grown in harmony with people and nature. We take corporate responsibility seriously. And, of course, direct contact and transparency with our retailers."
The transparency Heer referred to is therefore also reflected in the appreciation from customers, he said: "Our customers not only know the sales staff who help look after the fruit and vegetable department in the store, but for the most part they also know the people behind the products, our master growers. They appreciate the care and expertise with which the fruit is grown and prepared. The wide range of premium products and the professional appearance at the point of sale help retailers to offer their customers something special. In addition, with SanLucar products, he can also offer special varieties that are not available elsewhere."
Cultivation in harmony with nature
Addressing the increasing demand for organic products, Heer emphasized that SanLucar is trying to completely dispense with pesticides in the future: "From the very beginning, responsible cultivation has been important to us; after all, nature is our most important partner. In recent years, a lot has happened in conventional cultivation and our goal is to completely dispense with pesticides. This is not possible everywhere and not immediately. Basically, we use mainly biological pest control where we use the natural predators of pests or set up pheromone traps. Our apricots from Murcia, for example, already manage without any pesticides. Of course, this means more effort, experience and expert knowledge. The trees have to be closely monitored and pruned several times to protect them from disease. In this way, you can prevent the use of pesticides."
Against "food waste" and for environmental friendliness
SanLucar is also increasingly dedicated to "food waste," or food wastage. "We are already working on several projects to further protect the environment. For example, we try to optimize processes to save energy, or work together with institutes to use water as efficiently as possible. The lifespan of products is also an issue to counteract food waste."
The citrus fruits from Spain have recently been exported to Germany thanks to SanLucar's cooperation with Transfesa Logistics, thanks to a refrigerated rail express service. Heer: "We are always on the lookout for environmentally friendly alternatives. With the test with Transfesa, we want to find out to what extent we can shift transport from road to rail. But again, you can't change everything from one day to the next. But moving steadily in the right direction is our goal."
For more information:
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