Pitahaya cultivation is expanding in various areas of Spain and its supply is expected to increase significantly in the coming years. The Valencian company Alta Native, specialized in the production and marketing of Asian fruits and vegetables, decided to bet on it four years ago, perceiving it as a good alternative for the summer months.
"Our goal has always been to grow exotic products all year round to supply them mainly to Asian customers based in Europe. However, in recent years, we have been feeling the impact of climate change. It is getting hotter and hotter, and it is becoming harder to produce leafy vegetables such as pak choi, kai choi or choi sum, or exotic brassicas," said Salva Palazón, from Alta Native's sales department.
"The heat is damaging some of the production and causing pests to spread. That is why we are switching to other products, such as bitter melon, beans, eggplant, papaya, passion fruit and, of course, pitahaya, which we can supply from June to the end of January thanks to the plant's up to five blooms per year," he said.
"Although we are a relatively small company, every summer we have been managing to produce greater volumes of pitahaya since we started working with it four years ago. It all started because of the need of some independent Valencian growers to make the crop's marketing work. Now we work with 26 producers, in addition to our own production, in the provinces of Valencia, Murcia and Almeria," said Salva Palazón. "The Levante area is proving to have very good conditions for this crop."
70% of Alta Native's production consists of red pitahaya, and it also works with white and yellow pitahaya to a lesser extent. "Ninety percent of our clientele is Asian and they prefer red pitahaya, as they are used to consuming such varieties. For the Western consumer, it is still quite an unknown product, and also expensive, while the European Asian consumer is more accustomed to paying high prices for exotic products," said the company's sales representative.
"However, this could change, as we predict a significant increase in the pitahaya production in Spain in the next three to four years," said Salva. "This has already been happening in recent seasons and we believe that, as the supply grows, prices will fall, and this could also help boost consumption among Western consumers."
"It will also be necessary to lower the costs so that, with a lower price, the product continues to be profitable. That is why, in the medium term, we are looking to invest in the modernization of the plantations and the use of self-pollinating varieties. Most of the varieties grown in Spain are manually pollinated, which entails high production costs," he said.
The Valencian company had planned to start with the Asian vegetable campaign in mid-September, but it will be delayed due to the heat waves this summer. "It has been very hot in August, and then we also had the torrential rains. While we should already be starting the campaign, we had to replant many crops and will therefore start in early October."
Alta Native will be exhibiting at the next edition of Fruit Attraction at IFEMA, Madrid, from October 3 to 5, and is looking forward to welcoming you in Hall 3, stand 3D17C .