The plum season is already past its halfway point in Badajoz, the main producing area of this stone fruit in Spain. Sales are starting to pick up after a difficult situation in July and prices are expected to rebound in the coming weeks due to the limited supply of black plums.
"At the moment, 60 to 70% of the campaign has been completed, with August and September still to come," says José Aurelio García, manager of the Explum cooperative, based in Valdelacalzada, Badajoz.
"While sales started well at the beginning of the season, they suffered from July onwards, as has been the case in recent years with black plums. Now the situation is changing favorably and sales are picking up. The demand for the Larry Ann is good, considering that there is a lower supply this year," says José Aurelio.
"In general, late varieties are being harvested about a week late and the Angeleno, a staple variety in the markets, for which a smaller production is also expected, will not be an exception. It would be positive that prices continue to rise, so that the start of the harvest of this variety (in about 15-20 days) can happen with good price levels in the market. In general, there will be a shortage of black plums in the last third of the season."
Overall, this year's plums have smaller sizes compared to other years due, in part, to the impact of the dry weather. "This results in variations in the sales strategy, which will depend on both the customer and the destination market. Sugar levels are similar or even higher in some cases. In fact, there are varieties that have been harvested with a paler skin, due to delayed ripening due to the high temperatures, but with a higher Brix," explains Explum's manager.
Although, according to José Aurelio, plum prices have been slightly higher than last year, it remains to be seen whether they will make up for the increase in costs of the cooperative's members. "Nectarines and peaches have had much better prices due to the considerable drop in the supply. While one might think that plums could replace peaches, nectarines or flat peaches on the shelves, this has not been reflected in sales so far, so it is clear that it is a product with a very specific demand."
Thanks to their long shelf life, plums are usually shipped to distant destinations, "although this year there have been fewer shipments to overseas markets, given that the price of containers and freight has become very expensive. Depending on the market, the price has even tripled," says José Aurelio García.