Spain sees strong growth in berry plantings
The planted area for berry production in Spain’s leading growing region for the crop is up 11% year-on-year, with the sharpest growth seen for blueberries.
A release from industry body FEPEX said that for the 2018 campaign there would be 11,145 hectares dedicated to the crop in Huelva, a southeastern province that produces more than 95% of national volume.
The association noted similar levels of growth were also being seen in other producing countries like Argentina, Chile, Peru, Morocco and South Africa.
Among the berry categories, blueberries stand out having gone up from 1,150 hectares in 2014 to 2,858 hectares this year.
In an effort to stimulate blueberry production the local government has been offering subsidies to growers, with the harvests generally running from June to October.
The head of industry association Freshuelva, Rafael Dominguez, said that while the sector is expecting European markets like the U.K. to keep growing, it was important to diversify, adding the Spanish Government was currently negotiating blueberry access to China.
The industry is also trying to increase its presence in the Middle East where it has already started exporting blackberries.
Rising blueberry production around the world
FEPEX highlighted that last season Chile exported 103,000 metric tons (MT) of blueberries, while Peru expects to export 120,000MT in four years' time. In Argentina, meanwhile, the industry has a planted surface area of between 1,900 and 2,100 hectares.
Two-thirds of the three countries' collective blueberry exports are sent to the U.S., with the U.K. also an important destination.
On the African continent, Morocco and South Africa are also seeing rising planted areas of blueberries, while in Europe, Portugal, which has traditionally been more focused on raspberries, is increasing its blueberry production.