Producers from the region of Aragón in Spain are targeting new export markets ahead of the 2015 summer fruit season in a bid to avoid a repeat of the losses suffered in 2014 as a result of the Russian veto.
Backed by the regional government of Luisa Fernanda Rudi Producers, growers and agricultural organisations have staged a series of meetings with companies from UAE and Qatar and have invited several Middle Eastern companies to visit the region ahead of the new season to see first hand what it has to offer in terms of fruit exports.
“With some 10m inhabitants, the UAE is not only an interesting market in its own right but also because it serves as a distribution hub for the entire Middle Eastern region,” said Ignacio Martínez de Albornoz of trade promotion agency Aragón Exterior. “We know that demand exists for the kind of fruits we produce as they are already importing it from Southern Hemisphere suppliers like Australia and South Africa and we could play a complementary role.”
Aragón has between 34,000ha and 38,000ha of fruit acreage providing direct employment for around 15,000 people as well as 7,000 seasonal jobs. Production stands at 600,000 tonnes worth €350m annually.
Until the ban, Russia was one of the biggest destinations for the region’s fruit, absorbing 30-40 per cent of exports, and the sector lost an estimated €30m last year as a direct result of the veto.