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“Berries are a breeder’s business”

Digital Berry Meeting, organised by Mercados magazine copyright. Mercados revista

© Mercados revista

 

The high mortality rate among strawberry plants and how this affects the sector’s profitability was addressed at the second Digital Berry Meeting, organised by Mercados magazine. In a discussion titled: ‘Current situation of strawberry varietal development’, representatives of breeding companies, nurseries and producers analysed the causes of this mortality, which can reach as high as 30%, as revealed by Alfredo Arcos, technical director of Fresón de Palos.

The increasing diversity of varieties, from 20 to 117 in just over 15 years, according to the National Association of Strawberry Nurseries, together with the absence of active materials for soil disinfection and crop treatment, and the constant demand for earlier plants have all given rise to a breeding ground that is seriously affecting the profitability of commercial nurseries.

“Our profitability has plummeted, especially in the last three years,” said Javier Palacios, president of the association, who went on to say that “the business belongs to the breeders, who face no risks, while our profitability is zero.” And although nurseries provide healthy plants to their customers, if any problem appears, “we are responsible”.

According to Palacios, nurseries work with the sole objective of minimising mortality; for this, they scrupulously select the initial plant and, from there, they carry out an exhaustive follow-up of the clones according to criteria of fruit quality, Brix level, and yield. “It is almost impossible for a mutant to escape,” he said. 

Nevertheless, strawberry plant mortality remains a problem with an increasingly difficult solution. In this sense, Alfredo Arcos regretted that, currently, the breeder companies focus on the search for earliness or yield, at the expense of other issues such as resistance. 

Juan Manuel Arenas, director of FNM, and Francisco Jover, technical director of Eurosemillas spoke of their roles. On the subject of the possible causes of the mortality mentioned by nurseries and producers, Arenas added one more factor: the impact of climate change on nursery plants. As breeders, Arenas stated that they have two main goals: to offer varieties with tolerance to pathogens; and to provide their associated nurseries with genetic materials with sufficient guarantees for multiplication, which they then monitor. 

At Eurosemillas, Francisco Jover stressed the low mortality of their varieties, which amounts to just 1-2%. The breeding company has been in the sector for more than 50 years and, today, has more than 40 varieties of different species, including berries.

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Divided berry market predicted

Divided berry market predicted, copyright. Mercados revista

© Mercados revista

 

The future of the berry sector was the focus of discussion at Mercados magazine’s Digital Berry Meeting. Agrifood consultant David del Pino made several predictions for the new reality that awaits us, but it will not contain the birth of a new world, rather a slowly growing appreciation for the work done by farmers. What is 100% certain, according to del Pino, is a deep economic crisis, which will accelerate the transformations that were underway and make individuals more selfish. This will lead to an increase in demand for healthy eating, which will favour the fruit and vegetable sector. Within this trend, there will be a further commitment to products with added value, and with rational, emotional, social and natural attributes.

However, del Pino foresees a divided market model similar to what some analysts had already pointed out at the beginning of the century. This implies a change in the behaviour of middle-class consumers, who will abandon the traditional consumption pyramid model. The middle class will disappear as a compact group and with a model of typical consumption behaviour. “Now they have more access than ever to premium and affordable products as a result of the crisis, but they will stop valuing the basics, as they have easy access throughout the year, with standard quality. This forces the sector to sell commodities at lower prices and to turn to products of prestige that have a perception of luxury, but that are affordable for mass consumption,” said del Pino.

Retailer have experienced problems responding to the traditional middle class now it is divided into basic and premium. High-level chains and discounters tend to enjoy strong growth in crises, according to Del Pino. The latter have spent years with a hybrid strategy of offering basic products at very low prices alongside premium products, thus responding to the bipolar model. “What we saw coming is happening; and the implications of this change are crucial for distribution and for producers because it forces them to choose one type of strategy or another, focused on commodity or hybrid. It is a trend that is already here,” said del Pino.

To conclude, del Pino advised caution and controlled liquidity, contracts, storage capacity, and many other factors to prepare for an unknown future.

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America’s berry sector commits to recyclable packaging

America’s berry sector commits to recyclable packaging

The berry sector is taking an important step in the direction of sustainability with the announcement by a group of major North American fresh berry producers that they will commit to using 100% recycle-ready packaging by 2025. The group includes the California Strawberry Commission, the North American Blueberry Council, Mexico’s Asociación National de Exportadores de Berries, the National Berry Crops Initiative, and South American exporters.

In his statement, Rick Tomlinson, president of the California Strawberry Commission, said: “Berry farming has a long history of innovation and leadership that once again came together to make this ambitious pledge. Achieving 100 percent recycle-ready packaging represents the type of continuous improvement that is common among farmers as they strive for ever improving efficiency.”

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German asparagus and strawberry expos attract record attendance 

German asparagus and strawberry expos attract record attendance 

 

ExpoSE and ExpoDirekt attracted 6,700 trade visitors from across Europe’s asparagus and strawberry sectors on 20th and 21st November. The dual event, which was held in the Karlsruhe Trade Fair Centre, saw a 6% increase in attendees, reports spargel-erdbeerprofi.de. The events featured 445 exhibitors from 12 nations who presented their innovations for asparagus and berry cultivation, as well as for agricultural direct marketing.

Speaking to Simon Schumacher, CEO of the Association of Southern German asparagus and strawberry grower e.V. (VSSE).”The mood in the industry is better than last year. Plant managers have made targeted investments.”

The event also incorporated the 31st Asparagus Day, organised on the first day of the fair by the Karlsruhe Regional Council and the District Office Karlsruhe. Presentations covered topics such as insecticidal use and greening in asparagus, as well as recycling.

 

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1st Morocco Berry Conference

1st Morocco Berry Conference

The first Morocco Berry Conference (MBC) will be held in Agadir on 5th December 2019. This will be the first time that Agriconferences focuses on the berry sector. Berry professionals from inside and outside Morocco will come together to network and discuss technical and commercial issues. The Morocco Berry Conference is the key event of the industry in the MENA region with more than 450 expected participants. The conference will focus on production techniques and market trends. The aims are to connect growers and partners, provide growers with efficient production techniques and data on the challenges of the market.

The event, organised by Greensmile, will be a chance to immerse yourself in the Moroccan and MENA berry sector.

For further details, contact: Siham ZAHIDI

+212666 66 86 05 szahidi@greensmile.ma www.greensmile.ma

Greensmile is the organiser of Agriconferences whose meetings attract over 400 participants and key players in the tomato, potato and berry sector.

 

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Eurofresh Distribution & Fruit Logistica provide keys to success at fifth Berry Congress

Eurofresh Distribution & Fruit Logistica provide keys to success at fifth Berry Congress

Eurofresh Distribution & Fruit Logistica are sponsoring the 5th edition of the International Berry Congress in Huelva with “the largest capacity so far”, according to its organisers. More than 1,200 professionals from some 50 companies have gathered in the capital of Huelva to learn about the state of the berry sector both nationally and internationally. Filipe da Silva, head of global berry purchases at Jaguar and Sumit Saran, director of the Indian consultancy SS Associates will speak at the event lead the block of ‘work groups’ dedicated to analysing the new emerging markets for the berry sector.

Among the speakers at the event is Mamoud Dhanji, from Canada’s number-one importer, KROPS IMPORTS, who will discuss the market opportunities in North America, where the Spanish sector is hoping to reopen the market for berries.

“The Huelva Berry Congress is an unmissable event for Fruit Logistica. The berry sector is booming in Spain, its producers and buyers are expanding ever further internationally and we want to help them because the sector’s presence in Berlin is very important,” said Silvia de Juanes, communications director at Fruit Logistica for Spain and Latin America. Last year’s edition of Fruit Logistic featured the participation of 74 Andalusian companies, with 14 from the province of Huelva alone. The registration period for exhibitors who wish to participate in the next edition is open until July 31.