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Huelva diversifies and turns to sustainability

Sustainability is the watchword for Spanish farmers and traders, concerned about water foot - print and committed to deliver good qua - lity berries.

Huelva province, the biggest producer of fresh berries in Europe, is consolidating the crop diversification initiated last year and thereby ensuring the presence of Huelva berries across European markets for almost nine months a year.

The province of Huelva planted 9,658 ha of berries this season, reducing the strawberry area by 9% compared to 2014/2015, but still compensated by an increase of 25% in the rest of the berries, announced Freshuelva.

The growth in the planted area of raspberries, blue berries and blackberries is the result of Huelva’s commitment to diversifying its production, a movement that started strongly last season with farmers seeking new alternatives to meet consumer trends in Europe.

The strawberry plantation area is now estimated at 5,860 hectares (6,400 ha last season, -8.7%), while raspberries account for 1,815 hectares (1,560 ha last year, +16%), blackberries for 130 hectares (90 ha last season, +44%) and blueberries for 1953 hectares (1,470 ha last season, +33%), although a significant number of the blueberry orchards are young and will not produce at their full potential.

The ‘new’ berries are mainly being planted along the western Coast of Huelva, where surface water is available for irrigation, stressed Freshuelva.


This article appeared on page 95 of edition 141, Jan/Feb 2016, of Eurofresh Distribution magazine. Read that issue online here.

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Ongoing growth in UK berry sales

International Strawberry Symposium 2020: programme for the IX edition published

There’s been strong growth in retail sales of berries in the UK in the past year.

Driven predominantly by shoppers buying berries more often, along with a slight increase in the number of shoppers buying berries, and price inflation, the berries and currants market was worth just over £1 billion from 170,220 tons for the 52 weeks to December 6, 2015, having grown 16.8% in value and 12.8% in volume on the previous year, according to Kantar Worldpanel. The frequency of berry purchasing among berry shoppers rose 10.4% to an average of 18.1 trips with an average of 400g per trip.

Kantar Worlpanel data on berries & currants market

The strawberry market

Strawberries accounted for nearly 71% of all the berries sold in the UK.

The strawberry marked gained 10.9% in value and 8.2% in volume for respective totals of £546.7 million and 119,792 tons. According to Kantar Worldpanel, this growth was predominantly driven by shoppers buying strawberries more often, along with new shoppers and price inflation.

Kantar Worlpanel data on strawberries market

Strong growth in sales of blueberries, raspberries, blackberries

Blueberries, with 28,140 tons sold, accounted for 16.6% of berries sold, with sales worth £257.5 million, value growth of 26.9% and volume growth of 30.5%. This was predominantly driven by more shoppers buying blueberries, along with shoppers buying them more frequently and more per trip, Kantar Worldpanel said.

Worth £197.9 million from 18,358 tons sold, the raspberry market clocked 21.5% in value growth and 23.2% in volume growth. This growth was attributed to new shoppers and shoppers buying raspberries more often.

The blackberry market remains the smallest of the four, with a spend of £30.6 million from 2,786 tons, but enjoyed 20.3% value growth and 6.7% volume growth. “New shoppers and price inflation were key to growth, whilst there was a decline in trip volume,” Kantar Worldpanel said.

I, Prathyush Thomas [GFDL 1.2 ( or FAL], via Wikimedia Commons

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Early start to Huelva’s strawberry season


High temperatures in the province of Huelva over November and December have accelerated the ripening of strawberries, leading to an early start to the 2015/16 campaign and the first strawberries hitting the market over Christmas, according to the Freshuelva, the association representing Huelva’s strawberry growers and exporters.

Freshuelva president Alberto Garrocho said the weather in the province during November was like that typical of March, while that in December was akin to February- As a result, picking started nearly a month earlier than usual.

Garrocho said the weather has favoured fruit of optimum quality and taste and this, combined with the fact the strawberries have arrived a month earlier on the market, at a time of scarce supply, making Huelva’s strawberries much more competitive.

Huelva’s strawberry sector has 5,860 ha planted for the 2015/16 season, down 8.73% on the previous season. However, the planted area for other berries, such as raspberries, blackberries and blueberries, has increased 25%, with 1,815, 130 and 1,953 ha respectively.

source: Fepex

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Report on the benefits of berry imports in US

Off-season berry purchases in the US are still small relative to in-season domestic production, indicating the potential for off-season supply has only been partially tapped.

What is the value to US consumers of the recent increase in the availability of fresh berries in winter? And how large would the consumer benefits be if these berries were available at in-season (spring) prices during the off-season (winter) in the United States?

These were questions examined in the report ‘Measuring the Impacts of Off-Season Berry Imports’ published last month by the USDA’s Economic Research Service.

“Findings suggest that additional supplies of these fruits from domestic off-season and foreign producers are especially valuable to consumers because they occur in winter months, when domestic fruit production is relatively low, consumers’ choices are fewer than during spring, and prices are high,” the report says.

“Findings also suggest that consumers would benefit from further reductions in seasonal production cycles. However, consumers receive larger benefits from making off-season berries available (having some berries rather than none) than from increasing supplies to the extent that off-season prices fall to in-season levels.”

The report says that the factor driving these consumer benefits is prices falling over the winter months—the difference between choke prices and market prices in the weeks in which Chile exports fruit. “On average, these declines range from 49% (blackberries) to 69% (strawberries).” (Chile exports strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries during fall and winter. Mexico has also become a major supplier of berry crops to the US during winter but the study used Chile’s export season as a benchmark.)

The report says consumers would reap ever bigger ‘welfare’ gains should winter prices fall the level of spring ones, “which might occur if other countries began supplying the U.S. market or if there are advances in technology (either through improvements in domestic storage or shipping).”

Off-season berry purchases in the US are still small relative to in-season domestic production, indicating the potential for off-season supply has only been partially tapped. “Further advances in plant breeding or storage technology might make off-season supply quantitatively similar to in-season supply. Additionally, technological changes might reduce the cost of interhemispheric shipping, eliminating seasonality in the quantity of produce available.” the report also says.

Other interesting information in the report includes:

  • Per capita availability of fresh fruit is increasing in the US, rising from 106.50 pounds in 1980 to 131.04 pounds in 2012.
  • The berry share of fresh fruit availability increased 3.75 times (to 9.50 pounds by 2012).
  • Until the early 2000s, berries were unavailable to most U.S. consumers outside of their short domestic production seasons.
  • In 2012, fresh berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries) accounted for 16% of the retail spend on fresh fruit.
  • Highest monthly shipment numbers occur in June for blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries.
  • Shipments of strawberries are highest in May each year.
  • Retail strawberry prices in late December have been twice that of prices in May in recent years.

source: ‘Measuring the Impacts of Off-Season Berry Imports‘ by Carlos Arnade and Fred Kuchler, Economic Research Report No. (ERR-197) 35 pp, October 2015

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Asparagus, strawberry and onion production down this year in the US

The United States asparagus crop will be down 8% on last year, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). Figures released on September 4 also show that strawberry production faces a 4% drop and that of onions 5% compared to that of 2014.

The United States asparagus crop will be down 8% on last year, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS).

Figures released on September 4 also show that strawberry production faces a 4% drop and that of onions 5% compared to that of 2014.


Production of the 2015 asparagus crop is forecast at 685,000 cwt, down 8% on 2014. Area harvested, at 23,500 acres, is down 1%. Total value of the crop, at US $75.7 million, is up 3% from 2014. Fresh production of 530,000 cwt is down 7% on a year ago.

souce. NASS


Strawberry production in the US is forecast at 31.1 million cwt, up 4% from 2014. Area harvested, at 52,800 acres, is down 2%
from last year. Strawberry yield is forecast at 588 cwt per acre, up 37 cwt from 2014.

“In California, warm weather led to an earlier harvest. While the drought has impacted plant growth, production and quality
were reported to be good,” the NASS report said.


Production of the 2015 onion crop is forecast at 69.1 million cwt, down 5% from 2014. Onion growers expect to harvest 133,350 acres in 2015, down 4% from last year. Spring onion growers intend to harvest 21,900 acres, down 18% from last season.

Summer, non-storage onion growers expect to harvest 18,800 acres, down 2% from a year ago, while summer storage onion growers plan to harvest 92,650 acres in 2015, down 1% from last season.

The final tally of 2014 storage onion production is 55.7 million cwt, up 10% from 2013. The 2014 storage crop is valued at $566 million, an increase of 2% from 2013, NASS said.



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Berries could help astronauts offset the ravages of outer space

Berries are the basis of a special high-vitamin food developed by China’s Harbin Institute of Technology to help protect astronauts from the extreme conditions of outer space.

Berries feature in a special high-vitamin food to help keep astronauts healthy during long stints in space.

The advent of space stations means longer periods beyond Earth and thus more exposure to extreme conditions – including the effects of space radiation and microgravity. But Chinese scientists says they have developed a vitamin supplement compressed food that will help keep space travellers well and that tastes good, too.

China’s Harbin Institute of Technology – which has unique programs in the field of astronautics – is seeking a patent for the food, which is prepared from freeze-dried blueberry, honeysuckle, strawberry, raspberry, kiwifruit and blackcurrant powder.

It says in its patent application that these fruits are rich in vitamins and a low-temperature compressing technology is used to ensure the vitamins are not destroyed during processing.

“Because blueberries, indigo honeysuckle, strawberries, raspberries, kiwifruits, blackcurrant and other berries are used as the raw materials for preparing the special compressed food, …(it) can supplement the vitamins and other nutrients and also can well prevent a series of physiological changes of the astronauts due to the change of radiation intensity and gravity in space under long-term flight in extreme conditions, and particularly the extreme-environment induced oxidative damage to the bodies of the astronauts,” it says in the application, published by the World Intellectual Property Organization.

Blueberries, raspberries and strawberries are also among fruits NASA lists as among its baseline space shuttle food.

The issue of astronaut nutrition was in the news this week with images of astronauts eating red romaine lettuce grown aboard the International Space Station as part of NASA’s VEG-01 experiment (nicknamed “VEGGIE”).

Image: Computer-generated artist’s rendering of the completed International Space Station (2006), by NASA [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


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Huelva’s strawberry sales up 21%

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.

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.

Screenshot 2015-07-01 at 18.07.56.png

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.

source: Freshuelva

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Berries in one in four UK shopping baskets over summer

More than one in four shopping baskets sold by mySupermarket in the UK had berries in them last May–August. The average of nearly 26% for those warmer months – up from about 18.5% over twelve months – shows the seasonal nature of berry consumption.

More than one in four shopping baskets sold by mySupermarket in the UK had berries in them last May–August.
The average of nearly 26% for those warmer months – up from about 18.5% over twelve months – shows the seasonal nature of berry consumption.
Sales of organic berries were consistent with this spike. From January–November last year, just 0.61% of all shopping baskets contained organic berries but this rose to an average of 0.81% for May–August, though the vast majority of berries sold were still conventional.
The berries included in the data were strawberries, assorted berries, blackberries, blueberries and raspberries and all were sold pre-packed.
The data came from, which said it is derived from its about 50,000 monthly shoppers.

Berry sales up in UK

Retail sales of fresh berries have risen 11% in both value and volume in the UK, Kantar Worldpanel data shows.

Figures for the 52 weeks to December 7 show total sales of nearly £893.4 million, up from just over £803,4 million for the same period the previous year. A total of 150,781 tons of berries were sold, up from 135,674 tons.

Screenshot 2015-02-23 at 17.21.37.png

Read more berry news on pages 104-111 of edition 135 of Eurofresh Distribution magazine.

Screenshot 2015-02-23 at 17.27.34.png



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Infographic Highlights Benefits of Berries

Screenshot 2014-11-05 at 09


Which berry can help reduce cholesterol and which one is rich in folic acid? What are the seasons for the different berries and what are their calorie counts?

The answers to these questions and many other interesting details about berries are in a new shareable infographic from Huelva Inteligente.

Based in Huelva, the origin of 95% of Spain’s berry exports, the digital marketing experts have provided an easy-to-digest summary of the kind of information shared recently at the Fresh&Life berry symposium in Madrid.