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El Ciruelo expects to produce 70 million kilos in Spain and 30 million kilos in Brazil

"We are striving to have a longer marketing window for table grapes, betting on good early varieties"

The Spanish seedless table grape season got off to a good start in the Spanish region of Murcia a few weeks ago with good prospects in terms of volumes and fruit quality. El Ciruelo, the largest Spanish table grape producing company, expects to produce 70 million kilos in Spain and around 30 million kilos in Brazil, reaching a total of 100,000 tons this season.

"This year is looking good, both in terms of quality and production. The weather has been ideal, with unbeatable conditions in spring that resulted in a great fruit set for 2024 and the growth of very even bunches," says Rocío Mejía, Sales Manager of El Ciruelo. "We have many kilos of very well-formed bunches with good calibers thanks to all the work carried out by our team to make that possible," she says.

The company has started the season with good prices being paid for domestic grapes. "Our first grapes come entirely from our project in the coastal area, and producing on the beach is much more expensive than in the valley or in the north, because the soil, the number of plants required and the stress that the vines may suffer forces our team of professionals to do the work differently," says Rocío.

"We started with our early grapes from the coastal area in early June with a great demand. We are striving to have a longer marketing window, betting on good early varieties and standing out from the competition there may be at the moment in Europe. We are offering grapes with a great flavor," she says.

"Egypt's table grape supply tends to push prices down in the market, as labor costs there are also much lower than ours, which makes them a great competitor. However, this year, they have finished earlier and not with the desired quality, so many are already looking forward to switching to Spanish grapes," says Rocío Mejía.

Without a doubt, the main challenge for table grape producers is the rising labor costs. According to the sales manager of El Ciruelo, "the increase has been so high that it can't be fully passed on the final price. We have innovation projects within the company to keep improving our processes and we are planning ways to become more efficient, reducing costs wherever possible."

Meanwhile, sales volumes in the Spanish market are on the rise. "Grape consumption in Spain is strongly determined by the taste of the grapes. As long as we continue to offer great tasting varieties and making customers' choices easier by delivering a consistent product all year round, we will get more consistent purchases," says Rocío.

She also mentions the increase in the volumes shipped to Asian markets in recent years, although this year, maritime shipments will be affected by the situation in the Red Sea. "Asian markets are attractive, very demanding in terms of quality; however, these are countries that are very far away and there are increasing problems with the logistics, so we are going to remain strongly focused on the European market, without losing sight of the more distant markets where we are also present. Given the situation in the Red Sea, we will continue exporting and redirecting our shipments to other markets because, as far as Asia is concerned, maritime shipments will be affected and shipping times will be much longer due to the conflict."

New packaging, new brand and new varieties
This year is being characterized by a number of new additions to El Ciruelo's business. "Just a month ago we launched our new packaging called Your Healthy Snack, a take-away format with 2-3 pieces of stone fruit designed to allow consumers to take an individual portion of fruit anywhere. We have also recently presented our new brand Vero Frutto, under which we will be marketing our top quality products, mainly in traditional markets, but with the possibility of expanding to other points of sale," says Rocío Mejía.

They also have a wide portfolio of new varieties already in production for this year:

  • Sugra 54, a variety with a spectacular commercial volume. This is a seedless, mid-season white grape with a very similar size to that of the Autumn Crisp and hints of a Muscat flavor.
  • Sugra 53 (Ruby Rush), another one with a good commercial volume. An early seedless red grape that has done very well in the coastal fields and is being very well received in the markets.
  • Sugra 41, an early seedless white grape with a Muscat flavor which is also achieving good results.

"In addition to these new varieties in production, we continue to increase our range of Candy grapes and to work in our test block on the development of promising varieties."

For more information:
Rocío Mejía
El Ciruelo S.L.
Autovía Alhama
Cartagena, Km 2,5
30840, Murcia, Spain
Tel.: +34 968 630 645
[email protected]

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