The sale of the earliest and most expensive cherries in the world, grown in greenhouses in Lleida and Huesca, has just started. These are the only cherries filling the gap between late March and late April in both hemispheres.
"This has been an ideal year for the production, with yields of around 12 to 13 tons per hectare," says Óscar Ortiz, commercial director of Cherries Glamour, which has been marketing this exclusive product for 20 years. "We know that there are growers in China trying to imitate us, but their projects have barely been developed yet."
"While our cherries first became known for their earliness, over time they have also become known for their quality. It is a luxury and very reputable product, so it must be tasty and have a good shelf life to justify its high price. We work with the most innovative low chilling varieties from Californian breeders, and the challenge is to cut the energy costs as much as possible, especially in these times, without the quality being affected," says Óscar.
According to the commercial director of Cherries Glamour, sales continue to increase in markets in the Middle East and Southeast Asia, after having consolidated in the European market, which is more sensitive to the current economic situation.
"With the outbreak of the pandemic three years ago and around this time, sales in Europe plummeted, while in Asia, despite some downturns, the losses were much less significant. This prompted us to seek out other markets in Southeast Asia and the Middle East, where we are achieving steady growth. Meanwhile, the galloping inflation is having quite an impact on the purchases of such luxury goods among European consumers."
In order to recover the Russian market, which was lost in 2014 due to the veto on European food products, Cherries Glamour has been working on replicating its business model in Israel. "We have been working for two years in Israel to produce and market cherries just like we do in Spain, but targeting the Russian market, which at one point became our main export destination. It is a great challenge, but the truth is that the project is already at a very advanced stage," says Óscar Ortiz.
These very early cherries are 100% greenhouse-grown and precede the first open ground cherries, which are available from the last week of April. This year, according to Óscar, a two-week delay had been expected due to the prolonged period of low temperatures in February, but the situation has taken a 180º turn: "For days now it has been three times warmer than usual in the earliest areas, so the harvest could perhaps even be brought forward by a week."
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