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Sofruce launching superior quality strawberry brand

French company Sofruce is launching a superior quality strawberry brand this season.

With a 50-year track record in excellence and quality, Sofruce plans to mark this milestone with the presentation of a new brand.

The French company, based at the Saint Charles International platform in Perpignan, has announced it will will launch the ‘superior quality’ strawberry brand this season.

 

 

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Berries: Very positive performance for Florida Fortuna

Due to the great success of Florida Fortuna in recent years, the University of Florida breeding programme remains in a strong position and continues to utilise the most advanced technologies in research and development.

The 2015/2016 season has been very positive for the strawberry variety Florida Fortuna. The variety now holds 45-50% market share in Huelva. The high fall temperatures maximized its potential for earliness and productivity allowing growers to obtain the highest prices throughout the entire season.

Even after the inevitable price drop in the market, Florida Fortuna remains profitable due to its high yields. The excellent performance, consistent fruit quality and strong finish at the end of the season are the reasons that motivate the agricultural sector in Huelva to continue growing Florida Fortuna. It has proven to be the most profitable variety in the market yet.

For the 2016/2017 season Florida Fortuna once again remains the most widely planted cultivar in the sector. Its market share increased to 50-55% despite the overall decline in strawberry production in favour of other fruits such as raspberries and blueberries.

Due to the great success of Florida Fortuna in recent years, the University of Florida breeding programme remains in a strong position and continues to utilise the most advanced technologies in research and development.

Through the combination of traditional plant breeding and genomic-assisted breeding, Dr. Vance Whitaker and his team are able to evaluate double the number of seedlings in the first stage. This allows for a faster and more precise selection of new cultivars that express great potential for improved flavor, fruit quality, and disease resistance without jeopardizing earliness or high yield.

EMCO CAL has established trials in Huelva with the most promising advanced selections from the University of Florida breeding programme. The objective is to offer competitive, new commercial varieties that adapt well to the region. The company is committed to establishing synergies between strawberry producers, fruit marketers and plant breeding programmes in the industry while identifying new market niches for its variety portfolio.

EMCO CAL maintains good relationships within the major European markets. Through its participation in the leading international trade fairs, such as Fruit Attraction and Fruit Logistica, the company generates continuous opportunities for all involved in the industry.

This article appeared on page 78 of edition 145 (Sep-Oct 2016) of Eurofresh Distribution magazine. Read more berries and other fresh produce sector news in that issue here: www.eurofresh-distribution.com/magazine/145-2016-sepoct 

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Muranopvr strawberry now also popular in Holland, Belgium

President Pier Filippo Tagliani said the CIV's chief objective is to increasingly target its R&D towards the development of environmentally sustainable, high quality strawberry varieties that “satisfy every player in the supply chain, from the producer to the end user, at international level.”

The Muranopvr strawberry – Sainsbury’s benchmark variety in the UK thanks  to its high quality – is also growing more and more popular in Holland and Belgium.

With extremely attractive prices compared to other varieties, the variety is gaining support across the supply chain in both countries and also winning over end consumers thanks to its optimal combination of taste and colour.

In a press release, Consorzio Italiano Vivaisti (CIV) said the solid performance of its patented varieties has been once again confirmed from both an agronomic and commercial point of view:

  • Clerypvr the leading strawberry variety in the early segment in Belgium, France and Germany),
  • Jolypvr (very popular in Belgium in the direct sales segment),
  • Muranopvr and Capripvr (among the most popular everbearers in Northern Europe),
  • and with the strong performance of the new Flaviapvr and Flaminiapvr in Southern Europe and France.

“The proof is the excellent harvests and success throughout Europe thanks to the interest of retailers and consumers,” it said.

The versatility of the various CIV varieties – suitable for different environments (Flaviapvr and Flaminiapvr for temperate Mediterranean climate, while Clerypvr, Jolypvr, Muranopvr and Capripvr for continental climates), junebearers and everbearers (Muranopvr and Capripvr), with traditional soil cultivation and/or modern soilless techniques and/ or in greenhouses – is based on a common thread of technology and quality characterised by:

– Natural rusticity and vigour of the plants;

– Good adaptability to both integrated production and organic cultivation, as well as, obviously, high-yield conventional cultivation;

– Low environmental impact production thanks to their tolerance to disease and low water and feed requirements;

– Top quality fruit with a distinctive flavour and optimal consistency and shelf-life characteristics.

President Pier Filippo Tagliani said the CIV’s chief objective is to increasingly target its R&D towards the development of environmentally sustainable, high quality strawberry varieties that “satisfy every player in the supply chain, from the producer to the end user, at international level.”

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Huelva strawberry sales up 8%

Spain's strawberry capital, Huelva, has ended its latest season with production up 2% on last year to 294,650 tons.

Spain’s strawberry capital, Huelva, has ended its latest season with production up 2% on last year to 294,650 tons.

The increase came despite an 8.7% decrease in the planted area.

Freshuelva, the association representing Huelva’s strawberry growers and exporters, also reports €395.15 million in sales for the 2015-16, a figure 8% above that for the previous season.

In a press release, it said data provided by its members showed the average price for strawberries saw a small increase of 1.5%.

Harvesting took place nearly a month earlier than in other years due to a very mild winter, which favoured the quality of the fruit in the early months and an optimal rate of ripening.

The two main export markets for strawberries from Huelva are Germany and France, which take 30% and 20% of its total exports respectively, followed by the UK with 13%.

Despite competing with local production from countries such as France, Italy, the UK, Germany and Belgium in European markets during May, the quality of Huelva’s strawberries allowed it remain competitive in these markets throughout that month.

The heat of early June brought about a gradual end to the season in the province’s different production zones as the high temperatures reduced fruit quality.

Raspberry sales see 24% upswing

Regarding other berries, Freshuelva reported raspberry production of 15,800 tons, a rise of 10% on the previous season, from a planted area that was 16% bigger at 1,815 ha. Sales were ​​24% higher at €120 million. About 95% of Huelva’s raspberries are exported.

The average price was up 8.5% overall on last season though in May and early June, due to increased availability and therefore competition from the start of local seasons in Huelva’s top two export markets for raspberries, the UK and Germany, prices dropped at the end of the season.

The blueberry and blackberry seasons were still underway at time of writing but in both cases production was up significantly on a year ago thanks to increases in the planted areas to 1,953 and 130 hectares respectively.

By the end of May, Huelva had exported 17,800 tons of blueberries and 650 tons of blackberries.

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Rises in Spain’s strawberry, tomato crops

New estimates for Spain’s 2016 fruit and vegetable harvest show the total of tomatoes harvested over Jan 1-May 31 is forecast to be up 3.9% on last year, to more than 1.08 million tons, while the raspberry crop is expected to be 13.1% higher and that of strawberries is set to rise 7.9% to 342,700 tons.

Spain’s raspberry crop is expected to be 13.1% higher this year, relative to 2015, reaching 19,000 tons, while that of strawberries is set to rise 7.9% to 342,700 tons.

The latest – and very preliminary – estimates for Spain’s 2016 fruit and vegetable harvest from the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Food and the Environment (Magrama) – as at the end of April – also show that the total of tomatoes harvested Jan 1-May 31 is forecast to be up 3.9%, to more than 1.08 million tons, despite a 1.9% reduction in planted area.

source: Magrama: Avances Superficies y producciones de cultivos, April 2016

In the potato category, the very early crop is poised for a slight (1.6%) rise, to 105,700 tons, while the earlies crop slips 1%, to 415,300 tons, with similar variations in their relative planted areas.

As for onions, the babosa should rally 14.6% on last year, to 212,100 tons, according to the first estimates, and when it comes to mushrooms, the champignon (white button) crop is in line to come in 9% higher, at 132,700 tons, but the total for other mushrooms is tipped to decline by 3.5%, to 15,100 tons. The asparagus crop is forecast to grow by 8.6%, to 57,500 tons, and that of eggplant 5.3% to 259,700 tons.

source: Magrama

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Dutch production of tomatoes, aubergines and strawberries on the rise

Whereas in 2005, there were 230 ha used for covered strawberry production in the Netherlands, this steadily grew over the years to 280 ha in 2015, an increase of 48%

Although the total acreage used for covered horticultural production in the Netherlands fell 13% in the past decade, from 10,540 ha in 2005 to 9,200 ha in 2015, for some products there was a spectacular climb. The most impressive figures are for strawberries. Whereas in 2005, there were 230 ha used for covered strawberry production, this steadily grew over the years to 280 ha in 2015, an increase of 48%. Moreover, it probably still offers potential for the future since the growth figures include a 7% rise in 2014 and 10% last year.

Production under glass is by far favoured over production under plastic. Strawberry production under glass saw a sharp rise in hectares in use to a total of 280 in 2015 (+75% since 2005), whereas the hectares used for production under plastic fell by 29 ha from 2005% to a total of 50 in 2015. However, the preference seems to shift a little since the figures for strawberry production under plastic show a turn in 2015 when a 25% increase of hectares was seen.

More vegetables

Total production of vegetables has seen an increase of 7% since 2005 to a total of 4,750 ha in 2015, although it should be noted that the acreage has been falling since 2010 from 4,990 ha. Aubergine is one of the vegetable categories on the rise. With a steady increase in hectares over the years, the product’s hectares used rose from 90 in 2005 to 110 in 2015, meaning 22% growth. Tomatoes are doing fairly well, too. Whereas covered tomatoes were produced on 1,400 ha in 2005, this came to 1,750 ha in 2015 (+25%).

Specifically, grape and cherry tomatoes are in demand. Grape tomatoes  saw an increase in hectares from 940 in 2005 to 1,260 in 2013 and have been steady ever since. For cherry tomatoes, the acreage grew by 63% over the last decade to a total of 130 ha in 2015. In 2015, grape tomatoes were produced on 13% less acreage than in 2014. Sweet peppers show a mixed picture. The total acreage fell 6% from 2005 to a total of 1,160 ha in 2015. Yellow and green peppers show a steady decrease, whereas red peppers picked up in 2015 again after years of decline.

The red pepper acreage grew by 3% in 2015 compared to 2014. The category other peppers is on the rise as well, tying in with reports from breeders that there is increased demand for sweet pointed peppers. Cucumbers are definitely coming to a slowdown with a drop in acreage of 14% over the past decade, and flowers and plants with a fall of 30% since 2005.

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Flavia strawberry draws strong interest in Spain

From Italy’s CIV strawberry breeding programme comes the Flavia variety, which is particularly suited for integrated and organic cultivation and is attracting growing interest for the Flaviapvr variety in Spain.

From Italy’s CIV strawberry breeding programme comes the Flaviapvr variety, which is particularly suited for integrated and organic cultivation and is attracting growing interest for the Flaviapvr variety in Spain.

The test plantings are confirming the variety’s good performance, from both a farming and a commercial standpoint, and major groups are already scheduling pilot plantings for next year that will have good commercial impact.

Produced at the CIV (Consorzio Italiano Vivaisti) Research Centre, located in San Giuseppe di Comacchio in the Emilia-Romagna region, Flaviapvr is an early variety characterised by:

  • high resistance to powdery mildew and leaf and root diseases in general,
  • Suitability for tired soils, with no need for fumigation,
  • good adaptability to replanting and organic or low environmental impact cultivation,
  • excellent flavour – very sweet, low acidity,
  • long-lasting and intense perceived sweetness,
  • high percentage of superior quality fruits,
  • very early harvest,
  • BRIX: 8.8 -11.5,
  • excellent firmness and shelf-life.

The Flaviapvr strawberries join other varieties such as the Clerypvr (a leader in France, Central and Northern Europe and some of the most highly farmed countries in the East), Jolypvr (highly appreciated in Belgium) and Muranopvr (which became the benchmark variety for Sainsbury’s UK) as evidence of the efficacy of the strawberry breeding programme at CIV.

The programme has been operating since 1984 on four lines of research:

  • strawberries for the Mediterranean temperate climate,
  • the continental climate,
  • remontant strawberries,
  • varieties suitable for industrial processing.

The use of classic, GMO-free techniques and the development of new varieties that can guarantee high production of top quality fruits, along with the natural rusticity and high vigour of the plants, are the CIV’s primary goals to offer national and international markets not just quality but the best in environmental sustainability.

The Flaviapvr plant – thanks to its inherent vigour and rusticity – is characterised by production with a low environmental impact (e.g. low carbon footprint), which makes it particularly suited to integrated and organic, as well as conventional, cultivation.

CIV chairman Pier Filippo Tagliani said the CIV stands out for its development of new strawberry varieties that meet high environmental sustainability requirements. “Our goal is to give an increasingly sensible and effective response to customers’ growing need for quality products in environmental/health, social and economic terms, and fully satisfy the entire supply chain, from producer to end customer,” he said.

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Italian berries synonymous with high quality

Brand repositioning, a look at new markets, an eye to organic produce and plenty of quality: this is the signature style of Italian-grown berries.

Brand repositioning, a look at new markets, an eye to organic produce and plenty of quality: this is the signature style of Italian-grown berries.

The province of Verona has traditionally grown strawberries and is the natural headquarters for specialist produce companies that offer a quality product in demand throughout the world and even in difficult times make investments to increase their excellence.

Verona has always been noted for its two strawberry harvests, in spring and autumn: transplanting in July-August, autumn harvest September-November, dormancy in winter and flowering in March-April for harvesting in early June.

In summer the production moves to the mountains, to the Veronese foothills of the Alps, avoiding the high temperatures on the plain that make it impossible to obtain quality strawberries there in the hottest months.

This article appeared on page 54 of issue 142 (March/April 2016) of Eurofresh Distribution magazine. Read that edition online here.

Photo of strawberries: by Brian Prechtel (Public domain), via Wikimedia Commons

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Growth – and diversification – in Spanish berry production

Spanish soft fruit production increases and consolidates as an alternative to strawberries.

Berry production, especially of blackberries, blueberries and raspberries, has shifted from an alternative production to an important cash crop for Spanish farmers, notes the USDA in a new GAIN report.

In the last five years, Spanish farmers have embraced berries as the best way to diversify their activity – and minimise the risks associated with strawberry monoculture – and as the most competitive compared to other soft fruits.

And they are riding on the back of increasing demand for soft fruits not just in Spain, but within and beyond the EU, the report says. According to FEPEX, the Spanish federation of associations of producers and exporters of fruits and vegetables, berry exports in the last six years show an upward trend within the EU28, but an especially significant one in relation to non-EU countries.

“This change is seen in the main Spanish region for strawberry production, Huelva in Andalusia, where strawberry farmers are opening new markets and business lines designed to achieve greater profitability to its business,” the report says.

“Farmers in Huelva, Andalusia, the main Spanish region for strawberry production, are increasing the planted area for blackberries, blueberries and raspberries.”

Strawberries and Huelva still dominate Spain’s berry sector

Despite the growth in alternative berries, strawberries remain the main soft fruit grown in Spain, with production rising from 189,741 tons in 2008 to 317,700 tons in 2015 (based on FEPEX figures).

Huelva accounts for 97% of total Spanish strawberry production. Its strategic location in south western Spain sees it influenced by the Atlantic, with exceptional climatic features allowing it to offer the first European berries each season. In recent years several U.S. berry companies have invested and installed offices in Huelva, both due to special climate conditions and the strategic point to reach Spain, EU, Africa and the Middle Eastern markets.

Decline in planted area

However, FresHuelva, the association of strawberry producers and exporters in Huelva, calculates that the planted area for strawberries in Spain shrunk 9.2% last season, while that dedicated to other berries expanded 25%. The total area for soft fruits during last campaign 2014/2015 was 9,460 ha compared to 9,500 ha the previous year.

Source: FAS Madrid with FresHuelva Data

source: “Spanish soft fruit production increases and consolidates as an alternative to strawberry”, USDA GAIN report number: SP1604, February 10/2016

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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.

MV

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