Extremadura’s plums are starting to arrive in the markets, which had already been receiving the other stone fruit species from this region.
Extremadura is Spain’s largest plum producer and one of the few in which the stone fruit production has escaped the impact of the weather, which has caused devastation in many parts of Europe.
Despite the fact that this led the sector to forecast a good year for the marketing of these fruits, the campaign is not developing as expected.
“The behavior of the market has been unpredictable,” says Emiliano Andrade, partner of the Extremadura-based company Landfruit.
“It was predicted that this was going to be a very good season, both in terms of production and of quality and price, and it has been so when it comes to production and quality.
”In Extremadura we have not had significant weather incidents and there has been a good amount of cold hours, which has resulted in the production of very good quality fruit. But prices are not moving,” he says.
“We don’t understand how this can be happening, given the shortage of fruit in Italy, France and Lleida. Prices are not doing as expected, and when statistics are published, we will see how much of a production shortage there has been.” The sector sees no justification for prices not reflecting the current supply levels.
“The announced drop in the production due to the impact of frosts may have motivated supply adjustments in consumer markets to maintain a sustained demand, given the shortages,” says Emiliano.
“However, what is happening now makes no sense. There is currently a particularly high demand for peaches. With any other product in the same situation, the price would go up, but that isn’t the case, and the price is always lower than that of nectarines,” says the professional.
“The same goes for plums, Extremadura’s flagship stone fruit. Right now there isn’t a lot of fruit available, but prices have stayed the same; with a downward trend, in fact.
Plums shipped again to Brazil
For plums, the prospects had been even more positive this season due to the reopening of the Brazilian market for fruit from Europe, after exports to Brazil were temporarily halted last year.
“Last year we managed to compensate the loss of the Brazilian market by shipping fruit to other markets, and the season was saved. In fact, we thought that with the new lines opened and the resumption of shipments to Brazil, we were going to be in a better position, but the market is stagnant even there,” says Emiliano.
Moreover, shipping companies are immersed in their own global logistics crisis, which poses an additional challenge for the arrival of this fruit to its most important overseas export market.
“This morning I was told that the first and the second ship loaded with plums from Extremadura, which should have arrived in Brazil with a week’s difference, have arrived at the port of Santos at the same time.
Moreover, they have unloaded the second ship before the first; that is, they have unloaded the cheapest fruit before the one with a higher price. This is something that could harm the normal development of the fruit’s marketing,” says Landfruit’s partner.
“To this we must add that some shipping companies have bypassed the port of Algeciras for some weeks, so departures haven’t happened with the expected regularity.”
The company, based in the municipality of Don Benito, expects to market over 20,000 tons of stone fruit this season, which kicked off in April with the harvests in Huelva and Murcia.
It then continued in Seville in May, and from early June, the focus is in the fields of Extremadura. “From now on, plums are the flagship product. We will have supply until practically the month of November.
”We are producers. We have our own fruit and our own agronomic department and we control the harvesting process. We are trying to keep the entire varietal calendar under control and thus offer a better service to our customers, despite all the challenges we face,” says Emiliano Andrade.