Francisco Sánchez, from Onubafruit: "It seems to me that innovation is more important than quantity right now"

“We have to explore with products from the Fourth and Fifth Range. With special productions. With more limited, waste-free, environmentally friendly productions of innovative packaging. ”

The Huelva-based company, led by Francisco Sánchez, has and maintains an undisputed leadership position as the largest berry producer in Huelva, and ensures that they are the ones that sell their own production in Europe, in addition to being the company with the most direct sales with supermarkets.


Onubafruit is the number one company in blueberry and raspberry production, and holds second place in strawberry production. When Sánchez is asked about the factor that could explain this development, he replies that a good part of this success is in the production of his own varieties, although he pauses to emphasize that the cooperative model is the tool that has allowed them to achieve these achievements. , which has meant a growth of 500% from 2009 to date.

The Onubafruit company, from Huelva, Spain, is effectively a second-degree cooperative made up of six associated companies, and encompasses a total of more than 700 Huelva berries producers, which constitutes a different production project in the industry, which is the Francisco Sánchez's pride.

New scenarios

In the case of the new scenarios that will come after the pandemic is over and fixing their position in advance regarding the possible cost reduction that some already advise, it is emphatic in ensuring that no business strategy can be based only on reducing costs and He argues that in the case of his company, he would not choose this option to be more profitable, but rather to have a more direct relationship with supermarkets, "to reach a consensus and reach agreements". 

More professionalism 

Sánchez comments that in his case the relationship with the markets is good and he does not consider them guilty of the profitability problems of the products. Look at other factors to explain bad campaigns, such as inappropriate management or bad decisions that make sowing more than is advisable, for example. This he attributes to the lack of professionalism in the production process. It also sets responsibilities in distribution chains, due to its habit of almost always preferring the same suppliers.

Much more innovation

"I believe that in the field of marketing in Huelva we should enhance the professionalism of the activity, because in some products only two or three companies control exports. The degree of professionalism in this sector should be much higher ”, although he adds that the truly important thing that should be promoted in the fruit industry in Huelva is the differentiation of the products. 

"I think there is the secret. We have to explore with Fourth and Fifth Range products. With special productions. With more limited productions. Free of residues. Environmentally friendly, innovative packaging. It seems to me that innovation is more important than quantity right now, ”he says.

Francisco Sánchez maintains that in order to increase profitability and adapt to new challenges, “we will have to listen and look, so that we can adapt to the new times (…) but if we do not grow one year, nothing happens. For Onubafruit it is better to do it with the same philosophy within the bases than horizontally, since a poor integration could destabilize us ”, he concludes.


The reality of the Huelva industry and that of its producers will also be present at the next XXI International Blueberry Seminar to be held in Casablanca, Morocco, next September.

"We have a very important social component, made up of six associated companies and more than 700 producers, which is good for them to visit days together, as friends, and feel a little closer." 

The province of Huelva, with approximately 3.600 hectares under cultivation (1% more than the previous season), is the region with the highest production of blueberries in Spain, and is the largest producing area in Europe in terms of early fruit. It is currently in full harvest, but in the 2019 campaign, the Huelva industry produced 99,5% of the blueberries in Spain, with an increase of 23% compared to the 2018 campaign, and its main destination is concentrated in the countries of the European Union (EU). 

Martín Carrillo O. - Blueberries Consulting

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