The Persimon® kaki campaign came to a close recently with major complications due to significant production shortages. The area planted under the PDO Kaki Ribera del Xúquer remains stable, despite the difficulties in recent seasons, although the fruit still needs more promotion in order to reach more consumers. Cirilo Arandis, president of the Regulatory Council of the PDO Kaki Ribera del Xúquer, analyzed the current situation of this product at Fruit Logistica 2023.
"The campaign this year has been quite challenging due to the reduction of the production, which, although expected from the beginning, has finally been much worse in terms of marketed volumes. When these circumstances occur, it can never be a good season for anyone involved in the sector. From the point of view of our growers and associates, the season has logically been bad, because the better prices this year in no way make up for the yields obtained in the field."
Overall, this year's kaki production has been reduced by 70% compared to the estimated harvest. Compared to last season, this means that about 50% less has been marketed, and back then there was also a lower production. About 45,000 tons have been marketed, well below the 95,000 tons of 2021 or the 114,000 tons of 2019.
"The reduction in this year's harvest is mainly due to the weather conditions recorded during the spring, which significantly affected the fruit setting. This was later aggravated by other problems, such as the presence of the cotonet and other specific situations in some areas, but the most significant has been the fact that practically the entire production area has been subject to similar conditions," says Cirilo Arnandis.
The kaki acreage covered by the PDO remains stable.
Regarding the area devoted to kaki cultivation, the representative of the PDO Kaki Ribera del Xúquer said that "in our case, it has remained stable, with hardly any decrease in the cultivated area compared to 2017, which is when it reached its peak, with about 6,000 hectares. In 2020, the acreage rose to 6,600 hectares due to the expansion of the geographical scope of the regulatory council."
"We all know that, in the last decade, the crop's growth has been remarkable, but the last few years have been difficult, and this has caused many producers outside the scope of the designation of origin to give up on converting their crops after initially being attracted by the yields obtained with kaki cultivation. In fact, existing kaki plantations have been uprooted due to the low prices obtained in recent seasons. In any case, the producers associated to the regulatory council are mostly members of cooperatives. While the last few years have been more challenging, all the kakis have still been harvested and marketed by our cooperatives, which shows the stability and security we offer to our growers," he said.
What are the main challenges for kakis at present and in the future?
"I think this is a key question not only for the kaki sector, but for the entire agro-food sector, in view of the changes we have seen globally in recent years, as well as the economic situation, with the considerable rise of production costs. As regards kakis, though, I think the challenge still lies in promoting a fruit that remains relatively unknown by the consumer," said Cirilo Arnandis.
"It is clear, and our market research shows it, that many are still unfamiliar with kakis. Changing that depends, to a large extent, on promotional efforts. The regulatory council has spent years investing more than 2 million Euro annually in promotional campaigns in 6 countries with support from the Government of Valencia, ICEX and European programs, and we will continue on that line. Moreover, in 2023 we will be celebrating our birthday. It will be 25 years since the creation of the Regulatory Council, and we want to highlight everything it represents, namely a commitment to our producers, so that their activity gets the recognition it deserves; to the land, to "food autonomy", or to offering and guaranteeing the supply of quality products grown locally. I hope that 2023 will serve to celebrate and identify all these values associated with our designation of origin, and that this will help consumers recognize and appreciate them the way they deserve."
China, yes, but Europe will remain the most important market
The process to open the Chinese market for kakis has been underway for several years now and is of high interest to Spanish exporters. "We know that it is a slow process and that it may still take time, but, obviously, the opening of new markets is important for us, since our associates are clearly exporters, as shown by the fact that, for many years now, 80% of our production has been intended for export. In any case, Europe is and will remain our most important market," said Arnandis.
Good feelings about Fruit Logistica 2023
"Fortunately, in its latest edition, Fruit Logistica has recovered the sphere it had before the pandemic, so it has once again been a meeting point with customers and partners. Personal contact, which had not been possible in recent years, has brought us joy, and as usual, it has been a very productive event."
For more information:
Denominació d'Origen Protegida
Kaki Ribera del Xúquer
Plaça País Valencià, 7
46250 l’Alcúdia, València. Spain
Tel. +34 962 99 77 02