ES Huelva strawberries punnets

Spanish soft fruit association Freshuelva and exporter federation Fepex have called on Brussels to act “as soon as possible” to alleviate the crisis in the berry sector caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Domestic and export demand for most berries has slumped as consumers with limited shopping opportunities opt for less perishable items, coinciding with the peak production period in Spain.

The sector is urging the European Commission to activate exceptional measures set out under the Common Markets Organisation.

These would allow farmers to paralyse production and take steps to recall product.

The organisations have also requested a financial aid package including the refinancing of the liabilities of agricultural entrepreneurs at zero cost, guaranteed loans and tax postponements.

“March and April are the months with the highest volumes of strawberry sales, with exports totalling 79,676 tonnes and 95,168 tonnes in 2019, according to data from the Department of Customs and Special Taxes,” Fepex said.

Fepex and Freshuelva said they were confident that the support measures for the sector would be activated as soon as possible.