The acreage devoted to the production of berries in Portugal will reach almost 5,000 hectares this season, which means that it has grown fivefold in recent years. This was one of the topics discussed by the Spanish-French-Italian-Portuguese strawberry group, which recently held its annual meeting via videoconference with the participation of industry representatives from the four countries.
The meeting also served to analyze the results of the latest campaign in France, Italy, Portugal and Spain, which have been good in general terms. They also reported good consumption data at European level.
Regarding the current campaign in Spain, Rafael Domínguez, manager of the Association of Producers and Exporters of Strawberries from Huelva, Freshuelva, which accounts for 95% of the production in this province, said that the strawberry acreage amounts to 6,167 hectares, almost 1% more than the 6,105 hectares planted with strawberries in the previous campaign. The most common varieties have been the Fortuna and Rociera, just like last year; however, the trend towards greater varietal diversification continues, especially with early varieties that have made it possible to enter the markets earlier than usual.
They also highlighted the disproportionate increase in costs that has been observed since the previous season, and which has been accentuated in the current one, especially after Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which is leading, among other serious consequences, to a lack of control in the fuel and energy market.
The representatives of Italy, France and Portugal also agreed that the excessive increase of costs is taking a toll on the viability of farms, so this topic will also be discussed at the meeting of the Joint Committee, where they will also address the growing competition from third countries in the European market and the need for authorization by the EU for the use of appropriate pesticides to combat pests.
The strawberry contact group of France, Italy, Spain and Portugal is made up of representatives of the associations of producers and exporters of the four countries, including Freshuelva-Fepex and officials of their respective administrations. It is one of the product contact groups created under the umbrella of the Joint Committee of fruit and vegetables, whose meeting will be held on May 31 in Portugal.