Good prospects but little manpower for the Asturian blueberry

Asturias will harvest blueberries up until October. This berry has been gaining more and more ground in the Principality and during summer and part of autumn many producers market it under the label 'Paradise Food'. The campaign has started with good prospects, as there is a good quantity and quality among the early varieties. However, as in many other agricultural productions, the sector is concerned because there isn't enough manpower to harvest the product.

"It's a regular problem, it's not new, and now we have to face it. We're looking for people in Huelva. Temporary workers that we bring just to collect our blueberries," stated Marcos Villar, one of the four partners of the Asturian company Agroberries.

Villar admitted this is an old problem. The lack of workers is a widespread problem in many sectors - hospitality, health, social welfare - but it's not an easy problem to solve in the specific case of blueberry harvesting. "It is very seasonal work and it has many particularities. The blueberry campaign can start with a strong month to collect, then there might be nothing to collect in the next month, and then, in its final month, it could peak again. It's something that always happens, it's just the way things are."

Competition is in Eastern Europe
The Asturian blueberry sector, although already consolidated, still has other challenges ahead; including facing the imported product's strong competition, especially from Eastern countries. "We have gone from having an isolated product, which was almost a delicatessen, to one of the most demanded products. The market was opened, but this has been accompanied by more demand and, of course, more competition," stated Juan Antonio Lazaro, manager of the rural development group of Bajo Nalón.

"Poland and Romania produce a lot of blueberries and they do it cheaply. In addition, they have good logistics and can place their products here in two days."



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