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The sweet fruit sector prioritises internationalisation

Local cooperatives and businesses in Catalonia are working together to improve production quality of fruit in order to commercialise in the Catalan market where most of the fruit consumed is imported from abroad.

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28 July 2010 12:33 AM

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Gastroteca.cat / CNA
Barcelona (Gastroteca.cat).- “For the past 7 to 8 years, production quality has begun to prevail. An example of this is the investigation work that is being done by the Catalan Institute of Agro-alimentary Research and Technology, that includes both finding new varieties, and, regarding quality, taking into account the fruit’s skin just as much as its taste”, explained Ramon Sarroca, head of the fruit and farm branch of the Federation of Farm Cooperatives of Catalonia. The cooperative includes businesses that are both technologically advanced and concentrate the greater part of their production within the agro-alimentary sector. “We have made it a duty to prepare ourselves technologically to better production but we are currently living in a moment of uncertainty due to the crisis as well as the pressure from large supermarkets who want to buy cheap products”, affirmed Sarroca.
The creation of a brand for each kind of fruit as well as unitary commercialisation are priorities for the sector in Catalonia, a strategy exemplified by the Lleida pear that has brought together 7 different cooperatives and 3 private commercial businesses. “Launching a branded product with a determined destination of origin and its characteristics is fundamental”, said Sarroca. “The sector has recently begun working on promoting, marketing, and commercialising its products”, he added. Another task is to encourage consumption of the fruit within the Catalan market where much of the fruit is imported from abroad. According to Sarroca, there is a need to establish commercial relationships with large supermarkets, suggesting “a more compact offer of quality fruit that has nothing to do with the imported fruit imported from places like South America.”

Regarding the new season that has just begun, businesses are faced with achieving the best price for sweet fruit considering that in other zones production been reduced, such as in Andalusia, where production dropped by 15%, and in Murcia, by 20%. Last season, prices drops were especially noticed in pitted fruits like cherries, apricots and medlars and not so much in seeded fruits like the pear. As far as production within the cooperatives, they are expecting numbers between the 150,000 tons of last year to 250,000 tons, where pears are the most abundant at 30-35%, followed by nectarines, peaches, apricots, prunes and cherries at 45%, and finally apples at 20-25%.

A recent fusion has been made between two large Catalan fruit organisations, Catalunya Qualitat (Quality Catalonia) and l'Associació de Professionals de Fruites i Hortalisses (Asofruit or The Association of Professionals of Fruits and Vegetables), an entity that will represent 90% of the commercialise fruit in Catalonia and more than 1.5 million tons. Between the two associations, over 130 companies, thousands of producers of fruit and 62 commercial and import businesses with the capacity to export are represented. Joan Panadès, who will be the first president of Asofruit, said, “we have made an association of associations. It is a matter of committing to work together that could in time enable us to expand to more companies”.

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  • Pears from Lleida

  • Pears from Lleida