In 2020, Spain was the second largest producer of raspberries in the EU, with a share of 25.43%. The region of Andalusia led the national production, with 98.9% of the total, with the province of Huelva accounting for 98% of the regional acreage.
These figures make the province the second most important region in the EU's raspberry industry, behind only Poland. However, after many years of expansion that led the sector to reach its current size, the crop's cultivation has been retreating for several seasons, as confirmed by S.A.T. Algaida.
"4-5 seasons ago, we had about 40 hectares devoted to raspberries, but that acreage has been reduced and now our own plantations and those of third party producers reach a combined 26 hectares, as raspberries have gradually ceased to be a profitable crop," says Raquel Tello, commercial director of the company based in Almonte. "The production costs of raspberries are comparatively higher than those of strawberries due to the idiosyncrasies of the crop itself, and at the same time, their selling price has been declining sharply in recent years."
"Morocco has entered with force in the raspberry market with large productions and lower production costs than Spain when it comes to land, labor or inputs, and they supply very high quality fruit that competes head to head with ours when it reaches the market. In order for our production to be profitable, our average price in the campaign should reach 8 Euro, but from September until now, in mid-December, there have only been 2 weeks in which we have reached that price."
The Prices and Markets Observatory of the Government of Andalusia offered some figures that confirm this overall downward trend in the province. In the 2020/21 campaign, the acreage devoted to raspberry cultivation was reduced by 11.9%, and Freshuelva estimates that it has been reduced by another 8.1% this year. However, this reduction in the acreage and, therefore, in the Spanish production, coincides with a significant increase in imports, which have increased 4-fold in the last 5 years, from 3,000 tons in the 2015/16 campaign to almost 13,000 in the latest campaign, in which, as the report of the Observatory reveals, 75% of the imports came from Morocco.
"However, despite having reduced our raspberry acreage, we have decided to go organic. This year we have certified 1 hectare of raspberries of the Adelita variety as organic, and we'll be able to market them during the winter gap, from February to March/April. We hope to open new lines of business that guarantee a higher demand and better prices and profitability. With them, we will focus on Germany and France," says Raquel. "Differentiation with organic is our commitment; in fact, we currently only have 6 hectares certified organic, but next year we will have 20."
Algaida is present on the shelves of the main European retail chains, including the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Switzerland, where it markets its berries under the Fresmiel brand. The company's raspberry production this season will amount to between 300,000 and 350,000 kilos, that of blueberries to 200,000, that of blackberries to 60,000 tons and that of strawberries to 7 million kilos. Thus, strawberries will remain the most important fruit by far for this Huelva-based firm focused on premium varieties and formats.
"Of the almost 200 hectares that we have in production, 70% corresponds to strawberries. We have invested in private and semi-private varieties that have allowed us to position our strawberries in the top lines in supermarkets all over Europe," says Raquel Tello. "We work mainly with the Calinda variety, from the Dutch breeder Fresh Forward. We were the first growers in Huelva to test it and we have been growing it for 7 years now. We have also been growing the Fandango, from the same breeder, for 3 years. Both are premium varieties. Moreover, we work with the Rociera variety, which performs very well in terms of production," says the sales manager. "We have always chosen to differentiate ourselves with the superior quality of our fruit."
For more information:
P.I. Matalagrana, nave 56, 21730, Almonte, Huelva, Spain
Tel.: +34 959 406 944