“The blueberry sector is looking for late varieties for Huelva”

Blueberry acreage, which has increased by 2% this year in the Spanish province of Huelva, now accounts for 30.5% of the 11,802 hectares of soft fruit cultivation in 2022/2023.

“We started picking on Monday,” says Ramón Hernández from Perlahuelva. “We grow the varieties Matías, Windsor and Star. With that we try to cover the six months of the season, although we also have some Legacy in outdoor cultivation without plastic for harvesting in the summer.” This and other later varieties could even become very interesting for the sector in Huelva, says Perlahuelva’s director.

“The sector is looking for varieties to harvest outside the peak months, namely April and May, when the market is not able to absorb the full amount. The heirlooms are harvested in June and July, when the fruit traditionally comes from Portugal, northern Spain, etc. European countries come into the market, but in February, March and April we only have competition from Morocco,’ he explains.

“A few years ago, December and January were months with very reasonable prices for blueberries – up to €9 per kilo – but today those price peaks are disappearing. Prices have become more stable since the overseas fruit started to enter it European market in October. If there is still an increase in price, it is only very small, in April and May they even drop completely. While €5.50 per kilo four years ago was considered too low, now we are falling to prices around €3.50.”

This has a lot to do with the exponential growth of blueberry cultivation in Morocco, Spain’s main competitor these months. “I think that Morocco will assume the leading role in the European blueberry market. The big players in the sector are moving there. Huge plots are being built, unlike here in Huelva, where it is mainly a matter of small and medium-sized growers. ,” Ramón says. “Blueberries are becoming a volume business, and if it continues like this it will eventually become a commodity.”

“Our politicians must realize that we are a strategic sector”
The Andalusian fruit and vegetable sector is constantly working to improve its competitiveness, as horticulture is an activity of great social and economic importance in the region. After all, Andalusia is the export leader of fruit and vegetables in Spain. According to statistics from Extenda, Andalusia’s trade promotion agency, between January and October 2022 the region accounted for more than 40% of fruit and vegetable sales in all of Spain and the province of Huelva, largely thanks to the soft fruit sector, was the second largest exporter in the region. However, the growing impact of imports, such as in the case of blueberries, has the industry looking to the future with some concern. The entire Andalusian fruit and vegetable sector is constantly working to improve the competitiveness of an activity of great social and economic importance in the autonomous region.

“Our politicians must be aware that we are a strategic sector and that what happened in the past to sectors such as the textile industry – namely that they migrated to other countries and impoverished our production capacity – should not happen to horticulture. And it is not only about the textile sector. During the first months of corona, for example, we realized that we did not even have the capacity to produce face masks.”

“There should be more focus on a healthy water policy and more investment in horticulture technology. Because if there is one basic action that we will perform throughout our lives, it is eating food. And all food comes from agriculture and horticulture.” concludes Ramón.

For more information:
Perlahueva Fruits Export SL
Calle Zalema, 14
21720 Rociana del Condado (Huelva) – Spain
Telephone: +34 610 728 319

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