MADRID: With rising demand, little competition, and production set to soar in the coming years, the future looks bright for Spain’s persimmon industry. A commercial representative from major grower KakiFresh Nature said the current season was winding down and had been a success in all the destinations.
“There is more and more fruit being produced every year which is filling up the market, but we also have a demand that is rising at a similar rate at the moment,” Kees van den Heuvel told PBUK.
He estimated between 60-70% of national production was currently exported, and added the industry was looking to boost exports to other regions around the globe as volumes grow. “We want to export more to all parts of the world. It’s a fruit that travels very well – when it is treated properly it can reach many destinations,” he said.
“Of course every market has its own complexities and requirements, but it is fundamental to be able to go to lots of markets because if it just stays in Europe it will make things complicated when there is a lot of fruit.”
Interest from growers is on the upswing in Spain, according to Van den Heuvel, and there is an abundance of young plantations in the country that will drive volumes over the coming years. “In Spain in general more and more is being planted,” he said.
“This season the industry will produce around 300,000 metric tonnes (MT), but in two or three years we are going to reach 650,000MT – it’s going to double.” A large proportion of the young plantations are on land that was previously used to grow citrus, as the declining profitability of many fruits in the citrus category over recent years has led many growers to diversify production or switch entirely to more lucrative crops.
But such a strong increase in volumes in the near future is not a concern for Van den Heuvel, who said consumer interest in the tomato-like fruit was rising in all the markets, which was being complemented by increased supermarket promotions. He explained the domestic Spanish market was very strong, and consumption was also growing in Eastern Europe and the Baltic nations.
Russia had been a major market for Spain until the ex-Soviet country imposed a trade ban on the European Union in 2014, and for now Germany and England receive the highest volumes of fruit in the continent. While Europe remains the biggest export market for Spanish persimmon shippers, Van den Heuvel said there was a promising outlook in many regions around the world.
“There is a lot of demand in every continent. There’s not really a specific continent where the persimmon is in higher demand. For example in Hong Kong it is going well very, as it is in Canada, the U.S., and the Middle East.” he said. Another huge benefit for Spanish growers is that there is very little competition in and around Europe during their season that runs from late September to mid-February.
“There is some fruit in Morocco and Italy but it’s not much competition. In other countries there aren’t many persimmons at the moment.
“So we don’t have direct competition, but in Spain there’s a lot. For us here we have a common interest in selling persimmons in the best way. That’s why we want to ship more fruit to other continents, because if everything stays in Europe, it’s not good for anyone.”