The Greek cherry sector has been hit hard with heavy rains in the last couple of weeks. At the end of April, Greek cherry growers also had to deal with low temperatures. According to George Kallitsis of Protofanousi Fruits SA, this has led to severe drops in volume. “A lot of fruit has been destroyed. Most farmers that are located at an altitude of 700 meters above sea level saw crop damage ranging from 30% to 100%.”
Although this has affected the quality of the last couple of weeks, the quality of the current supplies of cherries are good.
“We’re producing several varieties of cherries, such as Satin, Larian, Georgia, Early Star, Big Star, Lapins and the Greek variety Bakirtzeika. Next week, we’re going to start the production of Kordia and Regina cherries.”
The European market for cherries is seeing more competition. The volumes from Spain are increasing, whereas Turkish cherries are in a league of their own. “Turkey is the preferred origin of most German supermarket chains. We’re trying to change that.”
Protofanousi Fruits has been making use of a new sorting machine. The machine has proven his worth with regards to shifting all damaged cherries due to the weather conditions of the last month. “We managed to separate all damaged fruit and ended up with 70% to 80% of the total of volume. The machine also provides us with options to sort by colour or size, which allows for new packaging formats. And the machine is fast. It has an output of 10 tons per hour and we can work with fruit one day after the harvest.”
All in all, George expects the season to improve. “After a couple of weeks, prizes are going to go up. We’ve been informed that Northern European countries have been hit hard by the weather as well. This means that there won’t be a lot of cherries available in July. This season will see very good prices, though unfortunately we won’t have the volumes to truly capitalize on this.”
Source – http://www.freshplaza.com