The move is expected to allow UNICA to increase its volume to 450 million kilos of fruit and vegetable products.
Unica Group has integrated Sunaran – a cooperative located in the Cordovan town of Palma del Río. Sunaran SAT is composed of 100 farmers cultivating 1,500 hectares of citrus in the Guadalquivir Valley, reaching a production of 50,000 tons. Future growth is expected with the entry into production of the youngest farms over the coming years.
The cooperative produces the whole range of orange and grapefruit varieties, with a period of production and marketing from October to July. Around 80% of production is for export, with the main destinations being the EU, Canada, the Middle East, China and South Korea.
This operation takes to 17 the number of cooperatives that make up the UNICA, with a presence in Almeria, Granada, Murcia, Málaga, Cádiz and Cuenca: Agrolevante, Cabasc, Camposol, Casur, Coopaman, Cohorsan, Cota 120, Europeans, Granagenil, The Group, Ferva, ParqueNat, Parafruts, Frutas Segura and García and Virgen del Rocío. The fresh production of the AN Group cooperatives is also sold through Unica Fresh.
Becoming a UNICA cooperative allows Sunaran to join a “consolidated” project, which brings together the production of thousands of farmers through its different cooperatives. “UNICA shares our main objective of seeking the greatest profitability for our farmer to face the future in the best possible way,” said Antonio María Carmona, manager of Sunaran.
Carmona also considers that the incorporation of the citrus fruit of the Cordovan cooperative to the range of products already marketed by UNICA can be beneficial for both parties: “We believe that the possibility of a single supplier offering its own production of fruit and vegetable to meet its client needs should ensure a good position for UNICA and sustainable commercial relations between both parties.”
Moreover, Sunaran will make available to UNICA its experience in markets of third countries – so important in recent years for citrus fruits. Likewise, this partnership will give Sunaran the opportunity to develop new projects that “individually are more difficult to undertake.”
From the Unica Group, its manager, Enrique de los Ríos, evaluates the move as “very positive” as it continues to advance cooperation between farmers: “It is not only about the orange helping the tomato and vice versa, which helps the profitability of the farmer and ensures better service to customers from several continents; it is also about continuing to unite farmers in a common project, overcoming the inertia of thinking that we are better off alone.” Similarly, he adds that “agri-food cooperatives have to continue cooperating in the face of the great challenges we face, such as competition from third countries, competition from the ultra-processed industry, and changes in consumer habits, sustainability or digital transformation. Thus, we will be able to take advantage of the current Veggie Boom by offering attractive products to the consumer that bring health and well-being.”