The new Spanish kiwifruit campaign is currently in full swing, with a harvest between 5 and 8% higher than the previous one and an abundance of small sizes.
"Initially, we thought that the harvest would be smaller this year, but the weather was very favorable during the months of September and October, with mild temperatures that have allowed the fruit to grow larger than expected," says Carlos Vila, manager from the Galician company Kiwi Atlántico, Spain's main kiwifruit producer. “As a result, the production is higher than initially estimated, although the sizes are still small, after two campaigns with an abundance of large sizes. Generally, the kiwis have a high brix and good flavor,” he says.
According to Carlos Vila, this is a campaign with somewhat higher prices due to the rise in the cost of packaging materials and transport compared to last year. Also, consumption in the Spanish market - the main destination of this firm's kiwis - remains stable in a year in which Italy has had a smaller production. And although Greece continues to grow, it cannot cover the gap left by Italian kiwis in the markets. Still, the demand is expected to increase after the Christmas celebrations, as it usually does every year.
The acreage devoted to kiwifruit continues to grow slightly each year in Spain, both in Galicia and Asturias, as well as in Catalonia, having stabilized in the province of Valencia. Kiwi Atlántico expects to expand the acreage by 45 hectares ahead of next year.
"The area planted with kiwis is increasing little by little and in a controlled way, since the fruit needs very special conditions, with light soils and no strong frosts or winds. Besides, it should be recalled that it requires an investment of around 50,000 Euro per hectare,” says Carlos Vila.
The company is focused on green kiwifruit cultivation, primarily the Hayward variety, and continues to test various varieties of yellow and red-fleshed kiwis. “Although there are several varieties of yellow kiwi on the market, they can hardly compete with Zespri's Sungold, both in terms of availability and quality consistency. Although they may be interesting varieties, we think that the green kiwifruit will continue to be the most important, especially given its properties, as it helps improve intestinal transit, has a high percentage of vitamin D and has laxative effects, for example,” he says.
Kiwi Atlántico has invested 800,000 Euro to improve the sorting machinery. "With this we seek to be able to offer homogeneity in ripeness and sugar levels in all the fruits packaged together. We hope to put it into operation throughout this campaign, as we obtained very positive results in the tests carried out last season.”