The 2016/2017 season ends. How would you define this season?
We have had a really positive apple season with appropriate volume. Our producers in the Loire valley experienced production shrinkage but we could compensate it thanks to our Brazilian partners, who yielded an exceptional harvest 70% larger in volume than last year’s. Volume and quality enabled us to have a good commercial season. In general, the return has been somewhat higher than last year’s, to a great extent due to our right variety selection, namely to our Gala, Fuji, and Pink Lady® apples.
What are your predictions with a view to the next season?
We think it is going to be quite an exceptional year beforehand, undoubtedly marked by lower quality and volume in Europe. In general, we expect a 30% fall in production, which will mean a complicated season from the commercial viewpoint. We will handle similar volumes to those of previous years, as our producers did not suffer losses, and those who did will be covered with new orchards. As for marketing and commercial issues, everything points at a price rise.
The Spanish market is rather important to you. How has it evolved in recent years?
It has undergone a great transformation, giving preference to cheap Golden apples, a product that has nevertheless lost significance in Northern Europe. North African markets are closed to this apple too, so that all Golden apples arrive in Spain at very low prices. Faced with this situation, we bank on reaching a premium segment with our offer of top-quality varieties and by introducing new apples, like Blue Reine®, Joya®, Novablue®, or Liliblue®, which are steadily gaining their place in the market. I believe the market of Golden apples in Spain will be much smaller in ten years’ time.
Are you then optimistic about the evolution of the Spanish market?
In Spain, like in other European countries, distributors give priority to local productions. In the end, the fruit reaching consumers’ shopping cart does not feature the quality that they are actually demanding and purchases fall. That is what is really worrying. For that reason, we in Blue Whale consider that one must arrive in the markets with a good offer of varieties and different marketing, with better products than local ones so that consumers prioritise quality over origin.