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"Carlos Vila, Kiwi Atlántico: "There will be higher quality and smaller calibres"

Spain: Hayward kiwi season starts with 30% more volume

The Hayward kiwi campaign has started this week for Kiwi Atlántico, Spain's largest producer and marketer. Its manager, José Carlos Vila, explains that there will be a greater volume this year, with fruit of higher quality and smaller calibres.

"Early forecasts pointed to a 20% increase in the production, but we can now talk of between 25 and 30% more volume than in the previous year, given the increase in plantings in Galicia, Asturias, the Basque Country and Navarre, as well as in Portugal. We are recovering year after year from the major losses in the acreage caused by the PSA three years ago, when even new plantations had to be uprooted. Now our production amounts to about 10,000 tonnes," he explains.

The gap in the southern hemisphere has advanced the start
"The end of the campaign in the southern hemisphere left a gap in the market that forced us to advance the start of our season a little, since the goods from Italy and Greece three weeks ago did not reach satisfactory quality standards. Reception in the market has been very positive, but we'll have to wait and see what the customer feedback is, considering that by starting earlier, and because we are still at the beginning of the campaign, the kiwis are somewhat harder. In ten or fifteen days, the fruit will be softer and consumption will increase," affirms José Carlos Vila, adding that "this year, all the conditions are ideal for a good campaign, both in volume and quality, as the kiwis have more dry matter, more firmness and a better taste quality.

Low availability of large sizes
While in previous campaigns the calibres harvested were larger than usual, as the production was smaller, this year large calibres will be rare. "In early June, there were strong winds that caused the loss of many flower buds, and having more fruit from fewer buds entails smaller sizes. For this reason, we will have a much lower quantity of volumes 18, 20 and 23 compared to the past two seasons, just like in the rest of Europe. There will surely be some difficult moments in the market to supply large calibres, whose prices will be higher, while the medium calibres will stay at similar levels to last year and those of the small will be adjusted," states the manager.

Iberian kiwis are unmatched in Spain
Spain is the main market for Kiwi Atlántico, with the highest per capita consumption in Europe. According to José Carlos Vila, Spanish and Portuguese kiwis are still more popular than their Italian and Greek competitors.

"On the one hand, we have the advantage of proximity, and on the other, the quality. The kiwis are produced in the north, where there is a low presence of other fruit crops, which means no pests and no need to treat the fields with pesticides, resulting in an almost organic production. Moreover, soils in northern Spain have less limestone and have a more acidic pH, and the same applies to the water; this results in a fruit with a columella (central white part in the kiwi) that is softer and more pleasant to eat. Another factor that plays in our favour over other origins is the low probability of frost in autumn, allowing us to harvest the kiwi after ripening on the plant. In Italy and Greece, however, frost usually occurs at this time, forcing them to harvest earlier."

After two years, Kiwi Atlántico resumes exports
Given the loss of volume three seasons ago, Kiwi Atlántico abandoned exports to focus on the domestic market. "This year, we'll again make shipments to Central European countries, as well as to distant destinations like Colombia, Panama and Canada. We'll export the medium and small sizes."

Uruguayan farms catering to their growing local market
Kiwi Atlántico also has farms in Uruguay through partners; their production is mainly intended for the local market and is also exported to Argentina and Brazil. According to José Carlos, "we initially considered shipping the fruit to the Spanish market, but given the growth in consumption in these countries, we believed they would get better prices there because of the proximity. We expect to continue increasing production in Uruguay, as at the moment we only have 35 hectares planted."

More information:
José Carlos Vila
Kiwi Atlantico, S.A.
T: +34 986715286
M: +34 616 944 607

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