Spain’s strawberry capital, Huelva, has bounced back from last year’s poor results with a nearly 21% boost in turnover – to €355 million – in its latest season.
Freshuelva, the association of producers and exporters of strawberries from Huelva, says the sector has ended the 2014/15 season with strawberry production up 3% on last season, to 288,660 tons, even though the land base decreased 9%.
Importantly, after one of its worst seasons in recent times in 2013/14, sales – totalling €355 million – were back to levels similar to those of 2012/13. This recovery was thanks to a 22% increase on last season in the average price, according to figures reported by member companies.
In a press release, Freshuelva said the price was helped by the fact that fruit quality in the first quarter of the year was excellent, thanks to favourable weather. However, and as has often occurred in previous years, at the end of March there was a peak in production which saw a considerable drop in prices.
About 78.5% of this year’s strawberry harvest was sold for fresh consumption and the rest used for processing. Freshuelva said the quality of the strawberries meant those from Huelva still found a market in Europe in May despite then competing with local production in countries such as France, Italy, the UK, Germany and Belgium.
Because of the intense heat in recent days, which reduces fruit quality and consistency, the harvest of fresh strawberries has come to a close.
The raspberry season has also concluded, with production up 20% on the previous season to 14,480 tons. Despite repeating last season’s 5% fall in the average price, Huelva’s raspberry sales rose again, this time by 15.7%, to €90.3 million.
In the first quarter of the season, 95% of the raspberries picked were exported, which was up significantly on the previous season. Prices dropped notably in May and early June as local production came on in the two main markets where Huelva’s raspberries are consumed – the UK and Germany.
The blueberry and blackberry harvests, which started in mid-March, continue, though at a slower pace.