Sign up for our daily Newsletter and stay up to date with all the latest news!

Subscribe I am already a subscriber

You are using software which is blocking our advertisements (adblocker).

As we provide the news for free, we are relying on revenues from our banners. So please disable your adblocker and reload the page to continue using this site.

Click here for a guide on disabling your adblocker.

Sign up for our daily Newsletter and stay up to date with all the latest news!

Subscribe I am already a subscriber


Local strawberry harvesting signals that spring is well underway, with summer fast approaching in the Northern Hemisphere. Spain, as a leading supplier to continental Europe, has had a delay to the start of their campaign with early export volumes down by 30% compared to last year. Supply has steadily increased from Spain while local production also started in France.

Supplies from the Netherlands increased to markets in Europe, leading to prices softening in some markets. Germany was initially supplied from Andalusia in Spain, but since before Easter, more supplies came from other countries, especially the Netherlands, leading to much lower prices.

In the strawberry growing areas of southern Italy, the harvest is gradually increasing. In Emilia Romagna, production started about 10-15 days earlier than in previous years.

The French industry is wary of a production peak bottle neck with Spain in April. In Serbia favourable spring weather points to a good coming strawberry harvest. Estonia's market is stabilising after rising prices at the start of the year.

In China the popularity of white strawberries continues to increase. However, this season's availability has been delayed due to adverse weather conditions, leading to a reduction in production. This season's strawberries are on the market earlier.

South Africa is seeing good prices and sales movement on markets in the country. More supply is coming online from Gauteng and the Northwest Province, while strawberry production in the Southern Cape region, that grows year-round, is impacted by heavy rain on the coast. In North America strawberry production shifts from Florida and Central Mexico to California. Growers in Mexico say they are struggling with production due to the El Niño weather phenomenon that has affected the climate and changed their usual weather conditions.

Spain: Supply of Spanish strawberries increases sharply
The delay in the start of the strawberry campaign in Spain has been noticed in the exports of the first two months (December 2023 and January 2024), in which they have been reduced by 30% in volume, although only 8% in value, compared to the previous campaign.

At this time, it is estimated that the volume sold could have reached 35% of the total volume expected in the campaign in week 11, after a moderate increase in supply of 12% compared to the previous week, according to information from the Junta de Andalucía.
In this context of significant increase in supply, the price at origin fell sharply by 32% compared to week 10 until reaching the average price curve of the last campaigns, going from €2.25/kg to €1.53/kg.

At destination, moderate price drops were also recorded in the wholesale markets of France and Germany, and were very pronounced in the import market of Perpignan. And, while in Germany the average price of Spanish strawberries in week 11 was €4.94/kg, in the French Rungis market the price of a one-kilo tray stood at €4.90/kg, In the Saint Charles de Perpignan market, the one kilo tray fell by more than 17% to €3.31/kg.

However, Easter "has been historic for the accumulation of water resources in the province of Huelva," confirmed an operator. "The rain and winter temperatures that have occurred have helped us to reduce the production available at this time to approximately half of what we would have. Normally on the Tuesday after Easter, due to the closure of establishments for the holidays, the markets were filled with fruit and that caused the price to drop considerably. But this year. anyone who speculated on this date has been proved wrong because the opposite has happened."

Germany: Mixed business, after Easter supply picks up
Both retail trade and wholesale markets were dominated by fruits from Andalusia. The current volumes from Spain have increased significantly once again and prices are correspondingly very low. In terms of volume, Greek, Italian and Dutch products followed, all of which have also stepped up their imports. A small number of Belgian and the first domestic greenhouse fruits were also offered. The Dutch campaign got off to a satisfactory start; the popular and formidable Malling, Fandango and Sonsation in 250g and 500g packs were mostly sold at 8,- to 10,- € per kilo and turned over quickly.

Overall, business was mixed: on the one hand, demand was noticeably limited locally during the Easter holidays, but elsewhere both interest and deliveries increased, so that prices for Mediterranean goods fell, in some cases significantly. in the long term: Greek strawberries are gaining ground in German retail, while Spain is losing importance due to climate change and a lack of water. Due to the proximity and freshness as well as the increasing transport costs for Mediterranean goods, the market share of Dutch greenhouse strawberries in Germany is increasing again.

France: Wary of production peak bottle neck with Spain in April
The French strawberry season got underway two weeks ago. While production is slightly ahead of schedule in the south-east, there was a delay of around a week in the start of the campaign in the south-west, as well as in Brittany. This delay is mainly due to the lack of light in the production basins this winter. Production of 60,000 tons are expected this year in France. So far, Spanish strawberries have not been particularly present on the French market. The delay in Spanish production could have a greater impact on the French strawberry trade if both campaigns have their production peaks arriving at the same time in April. And while many have said that French strawberries are more expensive this year, in reality prices are not much higher than last year, and are explained by higher production costs (raw materials and labor).

Italy: Fluctuating prices
"In the next 2-3 weeks, volumes may increase, but without reaching high production peaks, at least this year. Until the first ten days of March, there was not much production due to abnormal weather conditions, with night temperatures dropping to 3-5°C compared to 20°C during the day, delaying the development and growth of strawberry fields. The considerable problems with seedling death after autumn planting also contributed to the delay," said a grower from Basilicata.

A businessman from Campania added: "The week before Easter was satisfactory in terms of demand from Italy and abroad, a trend that has continued in recent years. In terms of quantity, demand far exceeds supply, so much so that we sometimes find it difficult to fully satisfy it. A negative aspect is that in recent years retailers have been competing to get their hands on strawberries in the week before Easter, in order to keep up with the promotional flyers. The problem is that because of the flyers, buyers go to great lengths to undercut prices".

A strawberry grower from Emilia Romagna who sells his own strawberries to supermarkets said he had experienced an earlier start to production of about 10-15 days compared to other years. "This has had a positive effect on prices, which have always been very high. My production is characterised by high organoleptic quality, thanks to the PIR5 variety selected in Italy and a greenhouse cultivation technique that favours flavour over quantity."

In terms of average producer prices, Ismea surveys show that in the third week of March, Sabrosa-Candonga strawberries recorded 2.91 €/kg, i.e. 1.3% more than in the second week of the month, but 19.7% less than in the same week of the previous year. Other varieties available on the market recorded 2.24 €/kg, i.e. 0.9% more than in the previous seven days, but 16.7% less than in the same week in 2023.

Serbia: Favourable spring weather points to good harvest
A Serbian producer and exporter noted that they have a good spring climate ideal for strawberry production. "The climate is stable, so we should have favorable number of sun hours. This year we are hoping for 600t of strawberries for 500,000 plants. We expect first strawberry harvest around May 5th. Our focus is the local market with this crop, but we can also turn to the export if the price is favourable," the exporter notes.

Netherlands: For the 2-3 weeks, the German market trade has also been showing increased interest in Dutch strawberries
"Despite the weather forecasts, I had expected strawberry demand to be somewhat subdued, yet our clients are actively looking for soft fruit," says a Dutch importer. "This season, strawberries have experienced a rather bumpy journey with prices ranging from 6 to 12 euros per kilo for lit cultivation in January and February. Time and again, it's evident that up to a certain price level, volume can be placed well, but once the price exceeds a certain threshold, sales also quickly come to a halt. From Spain, the volumes weren't excessively high, allowing for relatively smooth sales in the German retail sector. Some clients, especially in the gastronomy sector, prefer the Dutch product for its more stable quality, so we've managed to sell quite a few Dutch strawberries recently."

"For the past two or three weeks, the German market trade has also been showing increased interest in Dutch products. Due to the gloomy weather, the unlit Dutch strawberries were delayed in production and faced about a week's delay, but now the supply of varieties like Sonata and Sonsation, which are favored in Germany, are picking up well. A relatively new variety, Inspire, has also performed well. The taste of the first harvests of unlit strawberries of this variety was somewhat lacking due to the weather, but this has been rectified, and the strawberries are now coming into their own. I expect the programs to start from week 15 onwards, and then many supermarkets, including those in our export markets, will switch from Spanish to Dutch products."

Belgium: Prices at good level for time of year
Since this week, many of Belgium's strawberry growers have started picking the unexposed crop. "But the big volumes will enter the market around mid-April, after which we will have similar volumes to last year during the season," a Belgian trader told us. "Still, we can start the local season nicely. Temperatures are heading towards 20 to 24 degrees at the end of the week, so I expect sales to be very smooth. Prices are also at an excellent level for the time of year. In recent days, strawberries at the auctions have been around 3 euros. Those are prices equivalent to other years, with which everyone can make a living.

Estonia: Market stabilising after rising prices at start of the year
Estonians consume a lot of berries, strawberries included, and competition with local sellers is high. A large importer said they stand out with their Camarosa variety. "We bring it in from Greece, we sell Camarosas because of their taste and texture. They consistently deliver the flavor our customers expect."

Strawberry prices were rising in January and February, but the market has since stabilized. "We look forward to May and June when there's even more demand for the strawberries we offer," the importer noted.

China: the popularity of white strawberries continues to increase
This season's strawberries are on the market earlier and their market performance is greatly affected by the cold wave.

The cold wave is an important factor affecting the price and quality of strawberries this year. This winter's cold waves are frequent and snowy, and the low temperature lasts for a long time, which reduces the commercial fruit rate and market volume, and the price rises accordingly. Besides, the cold waves affect the quality. The taste has declined and affected the growth of the next crop.

The Dandong region in Liaoning Province is an important production area for domestic strawberries. In addition to domestic sales, Dandong strawberries are exported to Southeast Asia, Russia, Hong Kong and other places all year round until May. It is understood that the current export volume has increased by more than 30% compared with last year, and new markets such as Thailand and Indonesia have been opened up. The overall response is satisfactory. Except for Hong Kong, strawberries are mostly exported by air freight, but the current high air freight costs have an impact on the competitiveness of strawberry exports.

In addition, in the last years, variety diversification is becoming a trend. Dandong strawberries have always been mainly red traditional varieties, but as the market has paid increasing attention to new non-red varieties in recent years, the production area has begun with some new varieties on a large scale, such as pink, white, and black strawberries. As the stability of new varieties increases, their volume on the market will increase in the future.

Talking about the new varieties, the popularity of white strawberries in the Chinese market continues to increase annually, owing to their distinctive appearance and aroma. However, this season's availability has been delayed due to adverse weather conditions, leading to a reduction in production. While the demand for high-end white strawberries among consumers is rising, the overall performance of the strawberry market this year falls short of expectations.

A shift in consumer preferences can be seen, consumers now seek not only the visual appeal of white strawberries but also superior taste and aroma. Consequently, many mainstream varieties are experiencing a decline in selling prices, some even dropping to half of last year's rates.

As non-red strawberries gain traction, an increasing number of growers are venturing into white strawberry cultivation. However, many struggle with mastering cultivation techniques and defining their market niche, resulting in variable fruit quality and subpar pricing.

South Africa: Good prices and sales movement on markets
The Southern Cape produces strawberries year-round, although heavy rain has impacted strawberries on the coast. The first of the strawberries grown in Gauteng and Northwest Province are now reaching the market, a little bit earlier than last year, and selling out as soon as they arrive, a trader at a Gauteng municipal market says. "That's the best we have at the moment on our floors," he adds.

A 250g punnet goes for around R40 (2.12 euros). The average price at the Johannesburg municipal market is R140 (7.4 euros) per kilogram. Prices should stabilise in about a month as the peak of the northern strawberry season approaches; it's predominantly a winter crop in the interior of South Africa.

Egyptian imports have tapered off. Satisfactory quality at the start of the Egyptian import strawberry season but towards the end "it didn't look the best", the trader opines.

North America: strawberry production shifts
The supply of California strawberries has evened out and there is a steady supply/demand stream now that Florida and Central Mexico have ceased harvesting.

California's production yields have been high due to warmer-than-usual winter and early spring temperatures. Even with the rain the state received–and that continues to fall–the temperatures were generally warm and the plants responded with strong production.

The seasons along the Central Coast started on time and will continue harvesting into the fall. Right now, harvest is underway in Oxnard and Santa Maria, California with Oxnard approaching peak season in the next few weeks. Meanwhile, Santa Maria is about three weeks behind Oxnard and Watsonville/Salinas is just getting started. There is also industry production in Baja in northern Mexico.

On demand, it's steady and responsive to spring promotions. As for pricing, a few weeks ago prices were low due to an oversupply with berries still shipping out of Central Mexico and Florida. Now that those two regions have stopped harvesting, the remaining regions' production is meeting demand instead of exceeding and pricing is becoming more consistent too.

Mexico: Struggling with El Niño weather effects
The growers in Mexico say they are struggling with production due to the El Niño weather phenomenon that has affected the climate and changed the usual weather conditions. This has been leading to a delay in all productions by at least one month. A producer and exporters noted: "When we are just ready to start harvesting and to have a higher yield a random bout of rain came and everything went to processing. For the next season I'm expecting better weather conditions but also to discover varieties that can perform well even during climate changes. It looks like this weather challenges has benefited the blueberry production more."

"I can certainly say due to climate change the weather change is affecting us, and some growers in Mexico are stopping their productions since it is not a steady activity anymore like it was before," the exporter notes.

Next week's topic: Sweet Potatoes