In 2022 there was an 8.78% increase in the export of Mexican strawberries (pieces) to 38 countries, one of the berries that stands out in this nation. And from 2017 to 2021, an average of 655,000 tons of strawberries were produced in Mexico.
They are the leading states in strawberry production Michoacan, Guanajuato, Baja California, Mexico and Southern Baja California with about 98% of the national volume. Many of these areas are warmer and have cooler nights, which help flavor and sweetness, the organic matter of the soil and the tradition of growing strawberries since the beginning of the 20th century. See Mexican agricultural production statistics here
On the way to export work
In the case of the Naturberia firm, one of the leading companies in the Mexican strawberry sector, its general director José Luis Bustamante, who is also the president of ANEBERRIES (National Association of Producers – Exporters of Berries of Mexico), explained the Fruit Portal the. the social system of the production of this product and its trade in the North American market.
The company was founded in 2012 and is a subsidiary of the North American company Naturipe Berry Growers, part of the Naturipe farms group. Naturipe Berry Growers, of Japanese and North American origin, was founded in 1917 as an agricultural cooperative and has grown over the years to become a market for its members.
Today, the farmers who own the company include several of Mexican origin who immigrated in the 1960s and 1970s and continued to grow strawberries. Already in 2000 and in partnership with Hortifrut and Michigan Blueberry Growers, they founded Naturipe Farms to supply four berries to the market fifty-two weeks a year.
In the mid-twenties the brand “Naturipe” was launched. This cooperative started in Southern California and in Watsonville Salt Lake City. Naturipe Berry Growers are strawberry farmers, born to produce strawberries and today we continue to be strawberries at Naturipe farms, which is marketed,” says Bustamante.
“In the case of strawberries, Mexico is a winter sports player. In 2012 we started doing operations directly, we had done something before through Hortifrut, some exports of strawberries from Michoacán, but in October 2012, Naturipe Berry Growers Naturberry was founded, which is for us. Nature is what is in it started in 2012, with the fewest boxes in the 2012-2013 campaign, we made about 150,000 boxes, and from there we started to grow. We were the financial director, Jaime Almaguer and yours truly, all by ourselves, and we started to grow. We only had operations in Zamora (Michoacán), the following year in Irapuato, and in these ten years we went from two workers to eighteen workers and from this time we only had 150,000 boxes to 3 million boxes of strawberries. Each box has four kilos”, he adds.
“Naturberia is in charge of strawberries. The deal with which Hortifrut handles raspberries, blackberries and blueberries in Mexico. “We take care of strawberries and we take care of the other three berries. And we market all Naturipes under the same brand, through Naturipe Farms in the United States, and in other markets,” he explains.
“The Nature program not only has 3 million boxes to export, but also, in the summer, from June, July, August and September, we import strawberries from California to Mexico as national supermarkets, with a volume of more or less 500,000 boxes and; in addition, as the Mexican market to serve for a year, we have a plan from national to national, that is, we will export part of it and leave the other part here”, adds our result.
The company works with organic strawberries, within 3 million boxes for export, there are 200,000 to 250,000 boxes of organic strawberries. “Cow berries, for example, are of such good health that they can only sell them when they are available, if they don’t have organic blueberries, they can have conventional ones, but never strawberries. Strawberries, the most important market, and generally there is a premium that we estimate fifty percent over the price of one conventional, the average of the whole year.
“Organic strawberries are more useful as long as they are more productive. The most serious problem of expression, the biggest challenge, are soil diseases and fertilization, so organic fertilization is very expensive and reduces a lot and returns. And to fight pests or soil diseases, it is the same. Yes, it solves. But what grows a lot, from what we see, there are organic strawberry production systems based on the fact that we start with an inert substrate that does not have soil diseases, and we can be more realistic in organic fertilizations. Organic fertilizers are more expensive than conventional ones, so I believe that this is the reason for the free benefit in this to grow systematically. And moreover, organic, having a better price, weighs productive goods for the financial thing that is in the subject”.
“We contracted about 1,000 hectares for the 2022-2023 season, in Michoacán and Guanajuato. That’s the price. And in the strawberry variety, apart from Driscoll, there are two genetic lines that were developed by the University of California, and those that were developed by the University of Florida, most of the University of California varieties are free and we have good examples. Andreas, Frontera and Albion, I mean those three main ones. And from the University of Florida, in which there is a dart, we have and we have Festival, Fortune, and so on. In the last six years he has grown Planasa, which has a free variety called Sayulita, and recently he has worked with the company Plant Sciences Watsonville, who have a very interesting genetic program and we are there in the club with new varieties. they are still a code, but eventually they will have a name.
The markets are mainly the United States and Canada, and the complementary production in California. We are strawberry farmers in California, we want supermarkets to have the same quality and service of strawberries fifty-two weeks a year, and to be able to serve them during the winter season.
Of the exports, 98 percent goes to the United States. They are now being transported to the Far East, specifically Hong Kong, and also Dubai, Abu Dhabi. “Often, especially in the winter, the production in California is not enough to send to more distant markets and we have a corner there. There are projects to make very specific strawberries, like the ones that are liked in Japan, small volume things, but we can carry out these operations in Mexico, but it is very difficult in California, because the production is so great, that it is difficult for them, as I say, to export the craft to Japan”, explains Bustamante.
He adds that he is in Japan with varieties and premium packages, and in the Middle East, complete with the other three berries, to make full ships. On the other hand, South Korea is very big and interesting, there are direct flights from Mexico to South Korea, almost once or twice a week.
The national market needs the Mexican population to increase their consumption of strawberries and they are already doing so. And in relation to Europe “more than our company’s market, we are customers of the mother plants, genetics and a lot of genetic development in Spain, since the conditions in northern Morocco or southern Spain are very similar to what we eat here. So I see the European market for strawberries more and more difficult, because the production more and more local strawberries – the southern region of Spain has grown a lot, as well as the north of Morocco, and then in Belgium we have greenhouse production. it coincides with the local strawberry harvest,” said the president of ANEBERRIES.
He plans to import relevant technology from Europe to Mexico, such as irrigation systems and greenhouse systems.
According to the engineer José Luis Bustamante, “I think it is very important to have the brand of the country, that is to say an umbrella, but not so much to put a stamp on it, but really to make that brand of the country, the reputation, the work. The standards of quality, the standards of health and the standards of social services. What is important for us, especially for our company, since our market is North American, we want to complement ourselves with North American production, you know, to produce certain products throughout the year and well. demand, if consumers see it constantly on the shelf, they will buy it, but on the contrary. Making a country brand that says the products it produces are healthy, sustainable and labor-intensive will be the best for me. but to unite among ourselves.
With regard to the fact that most of the evaluations of the North American consumer, Bustamante points out “first of all, the readiness to find strawberries throughout the year. They also appreciate the flavor of Mexican strawberries. Mexican strawberries are generally not as big as Californians, but they are sweeter, and the typical thing is a medium more red than white, which is very important. And the third question is the cost-benefit relationship, we can put more stable prices in the winter production in Mexico, and get out of the peak prices.
In addition, he points out that “in the United States, we sell 80 percent of our intended product to large chains, and the remaining 20 percent are small supermarkets that combine to consolidate purchases and distribute centers or have a distribution center. There is a large amount in the United States of America.”
With regard to the nature of the business growth, he emphasizes that he wants to take care of part of his market, which they estimate to be about ten percent of the US market, so that ten percent of what is exported to Mexico and this country work. about 35 million boxes are exported from the central area.
Among those that proceed in high places, they must grow in parts of higher altitude, since they allow to cover the October windows and March-April sales, when there is less heat and it is produced in better quality.