“Promotional activities will focus on the North of Spain"
Forecasts issued by the Regulatory Body for the Denomination of Origin Custard Apple Tropical Coast indicate that around 10 million kilos will be certified compared to the six of last year.
Ramón González, General Secretary of the Denomination confirms “pollination and early fruit development have been very good and there will be a large number of pieces. By the end of the season there may well even be a large quantity of medium sized and small fruit because the trees are heavily loaded and with custard apple there is no thinning done in the orchards at all.
“Nonetheless,” explains the Manager, “we are always dependent on the weather for the fruit to improve in terms of size – quality is very good either way. Abrupt changes in temperature are never good and even here on the tropical coast, they can occur. It is far too early to know how the trees will be in February”.
Custard apple is a fruit that is still relatively unknown by consumers and so it needs the help of major publicity campaigns. Last year these were held in Mercamadrid and Mercabarcelona. This season, the Regulatory Body, with the help of the Ministry of Agriculture, is focussing on the North of Spain, the area where the fruit is the least well known and the least eaten. Custard Apple from the Tropical Coast will be promoted in the markets of Zaragoza, Bilbao and San Sebastian. These promotions will be held for both wholesalers as well as the sales outlets themselves. “Our ultimate goal is to have greengrocers recognising the product and selling it,” explains González.
“Right now (week 40) is one of the most complicated stages of the sales process because there is too much produce, in excess of market demand, although around the 15th December things even out somewhat when there is more consumption close to Christmas and less fruit on the trees.”
The representative of the Denomination confirms that they are also being affected by the economic crisis because custard apple has a lower status than other fruit. “Wholesalers tell us that they sell pears, apples and bananas but it’s hard for them to sell custard apple because it is considered an extra on people’s shopping lists rather than an essential”.
In order to gain a better understanding of the current market situation, the Regulatory Body has commissioned a study to analyse consumption areas, volumes and product awareness. “At the end of this year we will have the results which should help us a great deal in planning our next steps. I believe there is still a long way to go before customers begin to be more aware of the existence of custard apple and therefore actually eat it.”