The plan for Europe to have its own blueberries all year round
The fruit producer and exporter company from Huelva, Onubafruit, started in 2013 a research program to generate its own varieties of blueberry plants. The project is already giving its first results and in the short term the Spanish cooperative company will bring six exclusive varieties to the market that will allow it to expand its offer and extend the period of commercialization of its fruit in Europe from November onwards, for nine months so continues until July or August.
Francisco Sánchez, manager of the Huelva cooperative, made up of Coophuelva, Cobella, Cartayfrés, Freslucena and SAT Condado, in addition to small producers of various fruits, in statements to agrodiariohuelva.es, has explained that “until now, during the fall and winter All the blueberry that reached European markets came from very distant countries, such as Chile, South Africa, Argentina and Peru. With these new varieties, what we intend is to cover a window that we could not previously cover from Huelva, as well as making it easier for our customers to stock up on European blueberries throughout the year, since once our production period ends they will be able to access the local crops that have countries like Germany, Holland and England, among others ”.
The new offer includes ultra-early, early, mid-season and late varieties, which will mean a powerful competitive advantage over other players and will be a great leap “both qualitatively and quantitatively in the marketing of blueberries, not only in Europe but in the rest of the world ”ensures the manager.
A la carte marketing
The planted area will extend from the current 1200 hectares to 2000 hectares in the short term by Onubafruit's producing partners, "if the new varieties meet expectations." The expansion will be gradual because "we cannot go from collecting 15.000 tons of some varieties to producing another 15.000 tons of other varieties from one season to the next", Sánchez comments, explaining that the plan contemplates that during the current 2020 campaign, 30.000 plants of the new varieties. In the 2020/2021 campaign, the bet will rise to the use of some 250.000 plants, and in 2021/2022 the important figure of 1 million plants would be reached. "As of the 2022/2023 campaign, with some ten million plants, we will try to carry out a la carte marketing," he says.
"We are going to revolutionize the blueberry market, because 80%, or 90% of this fruit that is marketed today is going to disappear, so new varieties will have to be planted," Sánchez predicts.
For this year, Onubafruit's plans in terms of turnover are to reach 235 million euros, which represents an increase of 10% compared to last year's export season, in which a total of 82.000 tons of fresh fruit, which was 20% higher than the previous season, when 68.000 tons were sold.
The highest production is concentrated in red fruits, where strawberries maintain leadership within the group of companies that make up the cooperative, increasing their shipments by 18%. Blueberries remain in second position, reaching 15.000 tons in 2019, which meant an increase of 23% more than in 2018, and that according to the new plan this amount could be doubled.
Francisco Sánchez clarifies that although much has been invested in R&D, this has been a strategic investment because “the research will begin to bear fruit. We already have our own varieties of raspberries, now blueberries and we will shortly be releasing our own varieties of strawberries, which are also going to be talked about at the time, ”concludes the manager.
Previous articleMario Salazar: "The variety matters, to avoid the 'commoditization' of the Peruvian blueberry"