"Processed berries, just like all processed fruits and vegetables, play a very important role in our daily lives. They make it possible for us to enjoy ice cream, jams, juices, etc. all year round, despite only being harvested for a few months of the year," stated Joaquín Malagón, manager of the Spanish company, Hudisa.
Based in Lepe, in the province of Huelva, Hudisa manufactures purees, pulps and concentrates of different Brix degrees and is able to supply frozen strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries. These are used in three different lines: the conventional product line, the one intended for infant feeding or Babyfood, as well as the organic one, which are sold in more than 22 countries on five continents.
"Hudisa was created in 2004 as a result of the effort, union and entrepreneurial vision of the berry cooperatives devoted to the production of strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries. Their management teams understood that they could generate employment and wealth by taking a step forward in vertical integration," explains Joaquin Malagón. That is why many of its shareholders are producers and why a bank like Caja Rural del Sur and the Provincial Government of Huelva are also actively involved.
At present, this company processes around 20 million kilos. "This would not be possible without the strength that our producing partners give us." Hudisa is giving a boost to berry processing in general and we will see it grow in the coming years, given the investments of several shareholder cooperatives, which will expand their acreage by more than 1,000 hectares. This will allow us to continue consolidating our position in the market," he points out.
The fact is that the acreage devoted to berries is expanding, and therefore, the volumes processed are also on the rise; in fact, if we look at the official statistics managed by the Association of Producers and Exporters of Strawberries from Huelva (Freshuelva); for this campaign the increase is estimated at 3.85%, going from 9,658 hectares to 10,030 hectares. In any case, it should also be noted that not all berries follow this trend; in fact, the number of hectares planted with strawberries has fallen by 7% this campaign, with this being the general trend over the last three years.
"If consumers were aware of their health benefits, such as their antioxidant properties, anti-cancer, etc... their consumption, both in fresh and processed form, would increase dramatically," affirms the manager of Hudisa.
According to Joaquín Malagón, the processing sector, just like the fresh one, is shaped by the great competition resulting from the globalization of the economy.
"The biggest challenge berry processors face, if we focus on the process itself, is achieving the best plant conservation, as these fruits are highly sensitive to heat treatment and highly oxidisable."
For a number of years, Hudisa has been investing in R&D together with a technology centre (Adesva) with the goal of developing improvements in the production process. The firm's strategy is clearly focused on knowledge transfer; in improving the know-how of its human capital.
"Furthermore, the experience and high qualification of our producing partners helps us enormously in fulfilling our commitment of processing within 24 hours after the fruit has been harvested. This is something we do to guarantee that the expectations of our customers will be met," he assures.
Environmental aspects and CSR policies are part of Hudisa's strategy for the development of its activities. "Today, in 2017, we can say that we are a company in which quality is the basic element in the differentiation strategy of our products, and this is possible thanks to the commitment and the high degree of qualification of our producers, as well as to the human capital that forms Hudisa," explains Joaquín Malagón. "This is why we now have the most demanding certifications in the field of industrial processing, as well as the Kosher and Halal, which allow us to market our products to large multinational companies in the food sector," he concludes.