Hispalco: Stone fruits are not stones
Interview to Fabian Infantes, Sales Manager of Hispalco
by Carla Almela
¿When is Hispalco starting the stone fruit campaign?
We are starting on week 16. Initially the amount of product will be limited because we are talking about the first pickups. We refer to apricot in particular, we will dispose of fruits with 28-30 caliber approximately with a 10-12 brix degrees during the first weeks. This degrees will increase in two points the next weeks, when the fruit meets its optimum ripping point in the tree. In parallel we will dispose of peaches, nectarines and paraguayans, initially with medium calibers that will increase as May starts, having similar brix degrees.
Hispalco’s stone fruit campaign starts in the region of Murcia. There are companies that are already sending product from this zone, nevertheless, Monna Lisa or Lady Godiva product tales longer to get to markets. Why is hispalco delaying the start of the campaign?
At the start of the campaign fruit is always less ripe, we are not interested in starting campaign this soon because of the quality of the product. Hispalco tries to load the ware when the fruit is in the optimum stage of recollection. We obey to a quality criterium, a company policy that searches privileging the flavour, a good size and on the whole meeting the premium expectations of our clients.
Lérida, is another of your production zones. When is this campaign getting started for Hispalco and what differences exist regarding the one taking place in Murcia?
The campaign in Lérida starts in June. The product is the same but it arrives a little bit later due to its geographic location. The quality is similar but we have to take into account the meteorological conditions taking place. We might have a relatively better quality in one of the zones because of the weather but variation is minimum. The main difference is that Murcia’s campaign starts a before and Lérida’s a little bit later.
¿Has the weather been propitious for this years crops?
In general climate conditions have been very favorable. Two weeks ago very beneficial rains took place. They have allowed us to have fruit that has acquired a good caliber, this is very important. There has also been a small frost and some hails in Murcia that have lowered in 30% the production of apricot. Regardless of this, the rest of production is in an aceptable standard quantity and quality.
Do you think climate change is affecting exports and on particular de presence of spanish stone fruit in European markets? How does this change our consumption habits?
If we go a decade back in time we cannot deny there has been a change. Taking into account that the fruit cicle is inseparable from weather, what happens with climate change is that blooming and harvest tempos vary. In the past we were not experimenting such abrupt changes between cold and warm temperatures, the changing of the seasons was progressive, there was a fall and a spring between winter and summer. This is not happening right now. This affects frutal trees and therefore the starting and ending of campaigns. This can relatively affect consumption habits but not exportations, because sooner or later the product ends up being commercialized. What really affects the presence of Spanish products in European markets is the massive entrance of fruit from other countries. A very clear example is the case of citrus fruits this year. There must be a regulation in commercialization timing in the EU, what really varies consumption habits is prices.
¿What are the production and prize expectations regarding this campaign?
Hispalco has good expectations. This has been a year of strong production of stone fruit. When there is a lack in production prizes tend to rise. During this campaign we are expecting more quantity of fruit coming earlier. This will make prices lower before, this means the market will regulate prices in little time. On the whole production expectations are excellent.
There is a Russian veto happening for years. Do you expect a change in this sense in the near future?
They talk about he possibility of eliminating this veto but it is a topic that remains out of our control as fruit marketers because there are not only economic but political factors involved. Obviously if it did disappear the immediate consequence will be the decongestion of the volume of stone fruit in origin. When there is saturation of product in the market it is always negative, specially if we are talking prices and quality. There is a low quality product circulating at low prices that devalue premium quality products. Without the Russian veto diversification would increase and surplus of fruit would be better distributed in other markets and a result we would acquire better prices.
What novelties can we find this year?
There are constant new products, agriculturists plant new varieties every year. They come very stepped as trees start production three years after being planted. In 2019 new varieties of apricot are going to be harvested. We refer to the red range. This varieties are, Fuego, Pricia and Cheyenne. Their main feature is the 100% red color they present and their balanced size between 6 and 7. They have a very sweet flavour that is very much liked by clients. We will also dispose of new varieties in peaches, nectarines and paraguayans, that involve a longer endurance, very good flavour and intense and uniform coloration.