In W36 in the strawberry landscape, in 2023, approximately 97% of Spain's strawberry production, totaling nearly 350 thousand tons, came from the province of Huelva, Spain. Huelva has a long history of leading strawberry cultivation in Spain, and despite variations in harvest size over the years, the 2023 production remains one of the highest in the region's history. Since 2000, Huelva has seen fluctuations in strawberry yields, with the largest harvest occurring in 2015, reaching 388.89 thousand tons. Apart from 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic impacted production, annual strawberry yields in Huelva have consistently hovered around 350 thousand tons, with this year's figure at 349.12 thousand metric tons (mt).
Furthermore, during the weekend of W35, rainfall in Huelva was highly beneficial for the upcoming strawberry crop. Preparations are underway for strawberry planting in October, and the autumn rain is crucial for the new season, particularly considering the sector's 25% restrictions on irrigation water. While the strawberry fields are being prepared, consistent rainfall is eagerly awaited to alleviate drought conditions and water supply limitations that affected the previous season, resulting in reduced production. Huelva plans to plant nearly 12 thousand hectares (ha) of red fruits, with over 6 thousand ha dedicated to strawberries in the upcoming campaign.
Morocco has significantly expanded its presence in the Japanese market for frozen strawberries, with exports reaching 3.7 thousand mt in the marketing year (MY) 2022/23, marking a turnaround from a negative trend in Moroccan exports to Japan just a few years ago, with volumes nearly quadrupling in the past three years, generating over USD 6 million in revenue. For the first time, Moroccan exporters have maintained a year-round presence in the Japanese market. While Japan is one of the world's largest importers of frozen strawberries, with a rank of 9th globally and second in Asia after China, Moroccan exports have been steadily growing, increasing their share in Japan's total imports to 14% in the MY 2022/23, and reaching 30% in the peak months of April and May.
Morocco is Japan’s fourth-largest supplier of frozen strawberries, surpassing the United States (US) and Chile. However, Egypt remains the second most important supplier to Japan. Morocco has been the fourth-largest exporter of frozen strawberries globally since 2018, with total export volumes showing a slight decline since MY 2019/20, with the current MY reaching 45 thousand mt compared to 68 thousand mt in MY 2017/18. Despite this, Moroccan exports to Japan have increased by 25% in MY 2022/23, contradicting the trend of declining exports to other markets like Spain, the Netherlands, and Belgium over the past five years.
The recent storms have caused severe damage to strawberry and other crop fields in Areguá, Paraguay. Over a hundred small strawberry producers and other growers have been affected by the destruction of their crops, including lettuce, cabbage, tomatoes, chard, and green onions. Affected farmers seek assistance from various institutions, including the Municipality, the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAG), the Agricultural Habilitation Credit (CAH), and the Central Government. They request support with seeds, inputs, machinery, technical assistance, and financial aid to restart their cultivation of seasonal fruits, vegetables, grains, and greens.
Lastly, approximately a hundred exhibitors at the traditional Expo Frutilla in Areguá, Paraguay, are grappling with a shortage of strawberries for their fair. Adverse weather conditions, including drought, lack of cold days, frost, and the appearance of pests and fungi, have led to a loss of nearly 80% of the strawberry production in the region. As a result, exhibitors are now buying strawberries from Pirayú, Paraguarí department, to ensure the success of the exhibition and maintain an adequate supply of fruit. Despite the challenges, the price of strawberries remains at USD 4.12 per kilogram (PYG 30,000/kg).