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Poma de Girona distributes 300 kg of apples to local health workers

The producers of the Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) Poma de Girona, formed by the companies Girona Fruits, Giropoma Costa Brava and Fructícola Empordà, last week distributed 300 kg of apples to health professionals in the area. This solidarity action, in support of the tireless effort of health workers in combatting the coronavirus (COVID-19), took place at the Doctor Josep Trueta University Hospital in Girona, and at the hospitals of Figueres and Palamós.

The apples they have brought are from the four varieties (Golden, Red Delicious, Gala and Granny Smith) of the PGI Poma de Girona, which has almost 80 producer partners representing a total of 1,700 productive hectares. Poma de Girona does not rule out repeating this action in the coming weeks in other health centres of the province.

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Girona and New Zealand’s apple producers join forces

Girona and New Zealand’s apple producers join forces

 

Apple producers from Girona (Spain) were in New Zealand from Fevruary 23 to 29 as part of a joint project for the production of fruits in hot climates. The producers of the PGI Poma de Girona visited Hawke’s Bay, in the northeast of New Zealand, to learn about new techniques and new systems of apple production. The expedition consisted of 19 members -among producers, technicians and managers- of the three companies that produce and market the Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) Poma de Girona (Girona Fruits, de Bordils, Giropoma Costa Brava, de Ullà, and Frutícola Empordà , from Sant Pere Pescador).

Llorenç Frigola, president of Poma de Girona, said, “Every year we organise technical trips and this time we have chosen New Zealand because it is the cathedral of fruit growing, it is the most favourable place in the world and where there is more production per hectare, which can reach up to 150 tons.” One of the other reasons that led Girona growers to choose this destination is because with some of these New Zealand producers they are part of the hot weather hybridisation programme Hot Climate Breeding Programme (HCBP). It is a project for the production of apples in hot climates. The HCBP programme aims to improve apple flavour, texture, colour and adaptation to climate change, and one of the results are the first viable varieties emerging for production in hot weather.

For the president of Poma de Girona, New Zealand has a “very good soil condition, with a lot of organic, fertile matter and a very benign climate. There are practically no hailstorms or frosts and the winters are not cold, this allows the apple tree to have a very long development with a very short winter period with very good conditions. Its apple is very strong and has a lot of colour so that the ultraviolet rays are high.” According to Frigola, “It is clear that each area is different, but there are always actions to put into practice and techniques to experiment in our home. There, they produce a very red, thick and sweet apple that they export to Southeast Asia; Twenty years ago they had smaller, more acidic apples that they sent to the European market but now, they are self-sufficient.”

Another difference Frigola sees is in the market: “It is different because we store and serve apples for 12 months at supermarkets while they produce and make them during the six months they work each year.” Apple producing companies in New Zealand have a very important part of their production in exclusive club-type varieties that only they can produce, “they buy the production rights of these varieties. This trend is also beginning to be important among the companies of Poma de Girona.”

Girona producers’ visit to New Zealand comes after similar trips to Poland and the west coast of the United States in recent years.

 

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Spain’s apple sector aims to end dependency on imports

Spain’s apple sector aims to end dependency on imports

The producers of the Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) Poma de Girona defend the local product in the face of competition from imported apples. Currently, half of the apples sold in Spanish supermarkets come from Italy and France. At its Annual Membership Assembly last Friday in Girona, the Poma de Girona was awarded a prize by the director of the Cardiovascular Genetics Centre of the Biomedical Research Institute of Girona. Cardiologist Ramon Brugada highlighted the importance of consuming local products to support the local economy and protect the environment.

Currently, 480,000 tons of apples are consumed in Spain each year, of which approximately 200,000 tons are imported. In this scenario, the producers of Poma de Girona, who met to take stock of the communication projects and prepare a campaign to encourage the consumption of Poma de Girona, underlined their efforts to move to have the most sustainable apple on the market. Consumption of local products helps reduce CO2 emissions, the use of plastics and packaging, and promotes the local economy. The sector has been carrying out several projects over a long time to produce a more sustainable apple.

One of the most recent initiatives is the involvement of the three companies of the IGP Poma de Girona (Girona Fruits, of Bordils, Frutícola Empordà, of Sant Pere Pescador and Giropoma Costa Brava, of Ullà) in the Hot Climate Programme, which will allow varieties of apples adapted to warm climates and in about ten years, imports to the Spanish market will no longer be necessary, according to president of Poma de Girona, Llorenç Frigola. The initiative, involving New Zealand scientists, would allow the PGI to increase apple production by 50%, from 80,000 tons to 120,000 tons a year. “In the medium term, Girona and Lleida will have to cover the more than 200,000 tons of apples that come from outside,” said Frigola. The first variants adapted to the climate will begin to be planted next year.

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Poma de Girona develops apples for warmer conditions

Poma de Girona develops apples for warmer conditions

The Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) Poma de Girona will begin to market five varieties of apples adapted to warm climates within five years. In this way, the 80 producers of the group are preparing for the consequences of climate change and the resulting progressive increase in temperature.

At the Fruit Logistica fair, held in Berlin in early February, the promoters of this programme signed an agreement with the global leader in fruit production and marketing Turners & Growers Global to sell and continue to develop new varieties of apples and pears adapted to warm climates. These varieties are already being produced and are characterised by excellent quality and high coloration under high temperature conditions. They also have resistance to pests and diseases in warm areas.

The president of the IGP, Llorenç Frigola, explained that the genetic improvement programme gives the opportunity to Poma de Girona to be in “the elite of the world apple production and marketing.” With these varieties, the partners of the IGP Poma de Girona will be able to offer consumers varieties produced in local conditions and reduce the need for imports, which, together with a more efficient use of natural resources to be better adapted to the climate, will result in in an improvement of sustainability.

This international improvement program uses both New Zealand and local varieties to identify the best combinations for these hotter climates. Since 2002, when the program was launched, the objective has been to create new varieties with a high quality of taste that give satisfaction to the consumer and at the same time adapt to the climatic conditions of the production area of ​​Catalonia.

Poma de Girona consists of the companies Girona Fruits, of Bordils; Frutícola Empordà, of Sant Pere Pescador, and Giropoma Costa Brava, of Ullà. It is the leading apple producer in the Iberian Peninsula with 80,000 tons per year. Since 2003, the brand has been part of Fruit Futur, the Institute of Agri-Food Research and Technology (IRTA) of the Department of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Food and the New Zealand-based scientific company Plant & Food with the international programme Hot Climate Program (HCP), whose objective is to develop new varieties of apples and pears adapted to growing areas with high temperatures.

Currently, in the demarcation of Girona there are 2,284 hectares of apple trees, 84% of which (some 1,700 hectares) are part of this PGI. The three companies affiliated to Poma de Girona produce and market six varieties: Gala, Golden, Fuji, Red Delicious, Granny Smith and Pink Lady that are grown in Baix Empordà, Alt Empordà, La Selva and Gironès. However, only four of these varieties (Golden, Gala, Red Delicious and Granny Smith) are covered by the PGI.