Huelva's strawberry campaign started a few weeks ago with the earliest varieties, and even though the offer is still limited, the demand for Spanish products is starting to be noticeable.
"We started our strawberry campaign three weeks ago. The volume available increases every week, but it's still not very abundant, and we are mainly allocating it to cover orders in the national market," stated Pablo Gonzalez, the manager of the Huelva-based company BerryDealer. "However, we're already receiving calls from Dutch, Belgian, German, Austrian, and Swiss operators demanding Calinda strawberries."
Pablo Gonzalez, on the right.
The weather wasn't ideal at the time of planting and in the early stages of plant development. "The continued heat in October complicated the plantation, and part of it had to be replanted in different areas, a situation that has become worse this year. There was a really high percentage of replants in some specific variety," stated Pablo Gonzalez. "As a result, we are producing a little less than what we usually produce on these dates. The same thing is happening in Morocco. Their presence in the market is not fully noticeable because their harvest has been delayed by the drought," he added.
Huelva is experiencing a considerable increase in the restriction of water for irrigation this year. "The irrigation community told us in October when we had already planted our strawberries, that we would have 25% less water this year. Had we known this earlier, we would have planted a little less surface. It's not the most convenient situation, but at least it'll force us to be more aware and efficient in water management," he stated.
According to Pablo Gonzalez, while the competition with Morocco for raspberry and blueberry is becoming increasingly complicated, the competition in strawberry is disappearing. "The Moroccan strawberry usually occupies different lines of work and at somewhat different times. On a commercial level, we expect strawberry sales will be as good as forecast, as we expect the Netherlands and Belgium will leave us a wider window this year because energy is too expensive to produce with artificial light and heating."
At the moment, the average price of strawberries packed in traditional wooden boxes stands at around 5.5 and 6 euros per kilo; a slightly lower average than on the same dates of last year, Pablo Gonzalez stated. "It's worth noting that costs have risen enormously and that, in general, food prices for the final consumer have increased by about 30% on average compared to the same dates last year."
Raspberry prices were very low for several weeks, but they are recovering and have already surpassed 7 euros per kilo. Huelva expects a plentiful blueberry harvest this year, so prices could be under pressure."