In 2013, Huelva fruit producer and exporter Onubafruit started a research program to generate its own varieties of blueberry plants. The project is already giving its first results and in the short term the Spanish cooperative company will bring six exclusive varieties to the market that will allow it to expand its offer and extend the period of commercialization of its fruit in Europe from November onwards, for nine months so continues until July or August.
Francisco Sánchez, manager of the Huelva cooperative, made up of Coophuelva, Cobella, Cartayfrés, Freslucena and SAT Condado, in addition to small producers of various fruits, explained that “until now, during the fall and winter All the blueberry that reached European markets came from very distant countries, such as Chile, South Africa, Argentina and Peru.
With these new varieties, what we intend is to cover a window that we could not previously cover from Huelva, as well as making it easier for our customers to stock up on European blueberries throughout the year, since once our production period ends they will be able to access the local crops that have countries like Germany, Holland and England, among others.”
The new offer includes ultra-early, early, mid-season and late varieties, which will mean a powerful competitive advantage over other players and will be a great leap “both qualitatively and quantitatively in the marketing of blueberries, not only in Europe but in the rest of the world,” he said.
The planted area will extend from the current 1200 hectares to 2000 hectares in the short term by Onubafruit's producing partners, "if the new varieties meet expectations."
The expansion will be gradual because "we cannot go from collecting 15.000 tons of some varieties to producing another 15.000 tons of other varieties from one season to the next", Sánchez comments, explaining that the plan contemplates that during the current 2020 campaign, 30.000 plants of the new varieties. In the 2020/2021 campaign, the bet will rise to the use of some 250.000 plants, and in 2021/2022 the important figure of 1 million plants would be reached. "As of the 2022/2023 campaign, with some ten million plants, we will try to carry out a la carte marketing," he says.
"We are going to revolutionize the blueberry market, because 80%, or 90% of this fruit that is marketed today is going to disappear, so new varieties will have to be planted," Sánchez told blueberriesconsulting.com.