The berry campaign is currently underway in the Spanish province of Huelva with the harvest and marketing of raspberries, whose production is lower this year, as well as of the earliest strawberry varieties, for which the acreage has remained stable compared to last year. As for blueberries, the volumes are expected to grow significantly, following last year's drop in the production. This is all reported by Francisco Sánchez, manager of Onubafruit.
“In the second half of November, prices have been under more pressure due to the fact that the market has dealt with a production peak which has coincided with the presence of raspberries from other origins. Prices suffered and some producers were forced to sell fruit to the processing industry. After this setback, which wasn't as bad as in the same period last year, the demand has been picking up again and prices are rising to high, but reasonable levels. This year, as a result of the difficulties that the raspberry sector went through in the fruit's marketing, the planting was reduced by between 10 and 15% compared to last year. This has helped regulate the supply and demand. I anticipate that, although there may be some fluctuations, the conditions in the raspberry market will remain good until April, when the remontant varieties will arrive and there will be supply in other European countries,” says the manager of this second-degree cooperative, which expects to market around 12,000 tons of raspberries this season.
With regard to strawberries, Francisco Sánchez says that a little less has been planted compared to the previous year. “The production will be similar to that of the previous season, although we expect higher quality and fewer incidents due to shortages of labor, such as those caused by the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. Remarkably, last year's prices were among the highest on record, although the profitability was in question, since there were some quality problems and a lot of fruit had to go to the processing industry. We expect a calmer strawberry season this time, although perhaps with a lower price.” Onubafruit expects to market some 33,000 tons of strawberries in this 2020/2021 campaign.
As for blueberries, the company produces around 25% of Huelva's total production, with around 16,000 tons per year. "Last year, the cold and excessive rains caused the blueberry production to be reduced by approximately 40% compared to the previous season; something that was offset by higher prices. This year, if there are no climatic adversities, we will not only recover these volumes, but newer plantations will also become productive with higher yields. Therefore, this season Huelva could easily harvest around 50% more compared to last year, so prices are expected to be under much pressure. It should be recalled that the market was already becoming saturated last year before the weather caused the production to drop. This campaign, things will have to be done really well. Fortunately, we are prepared for this,” says Francisco Sánchez.
The acreage devoted to early blueberries continues to grow in Spain, according to the manager of Onubafruit, who believes they could displace Chile in the European market. “We are going to compete more and more with Chilean blueberries. We'll have to wait and see who offers the best varieties and is more competitive, but I think that Spain plays with advantage due to its proximity. In Huelva, there are also plans to switch to tastier and more productive varieties in the coming years,” says Francisco Sánchez.