One of the most popular strawberry varieties in Northern Europe is now being grown in Portugal.
Coimbra-based Sabores Púrpura has just harvested its first commercial crop of Elsanta strawberries in the Algarve, ensuring year-round continuity of supply for its European customers.
“We were told that it was impossible to grow these strawberries in Portugal, that it was a very sensitive variety requiring very cold temperatures in order to produce the required quality and sweetness,” said manager Miguel Silva.
“However, we knew that we were able to produce the quality that the Northern European market demands thanks to our considerable expertise in soft fruits.
He observed that the project had been a “huge challenge” due to the variety’s sensitivity and the variability of the local climate.
“One minute it’s hot and sunny and the next it’s cold and rainy, so we had to ensure we had to manage the crop very carefully – this strawberry does not permit mistakes of any kind,” Silva said.
Although based in Coimbra, the company decided to move its production unit to the Algarve where the milder climate would allow it to achieve a more sustainable production model with lower energy costs and water usage.
Sabores Púrpura exports 100 per cent of its production to Northern Europe, where quality manager Sofia Ferreira says demand is increasing every year.
“Customers are specifically demanding our strawberries because they are sweeter. Right now we are growing Elsanta with 10-12o Brix, which surpasses the expectation for this variety,” she noted.
“We are very pleased with the results of this campaign, but never satisfied: this is our motto.”