International transport of stone fruit from Spain

Almacenaje y trasporte del melocotón

What is COLD-TREATMENT? Stone fruit export

Currently, the stone fruit sector has grown excessively, to such an extent that its supply is greater than its demand, so exporting it to emerging countries becomes almost an obligation, especially for countries like Spain where the production of this type of fruit is very high.

But several factors must be taken into account when exporting citrus and stone fruits and this is where cold-treatment comes in as an essential element in this type of stone fruit transport.

But what is cold treatment? This is a phased cooling system that guarantees the quality of our product throughout the export process. This system is used to transport stone fruits or citrus fruits, and thanks to it we manage to eliminate certain pests such as the Mediterranean fly or the false moth without the need for any pesticide that could affect the product. This is very important since these insects can cause our products to lose quality or even contaminate them to the point of being banned from the market, thus preventing their commercialization.

What phases is Cold-Treatment made up of?

Taking into account two variables that countries focus on, such as the temperature of the pulp and the duration of the process, the phases are:

  • Preparation phase: The container is prepared to ensure that its conditions are optimal when the time of loading arrives. During this phase, the fruit is pre-cooled, with the intention of preparing it for its final cooling during transportation. This is done at least 48 hours before loading.
  • Loading phase: 3 probes are placed directly connected to the pulp of the stone fruit varieties, which will be responsible for recording the temperature and its duration during the journey. They will then be checked and calibrated by the Health authority before shipping. When they arrive at the destination, customs checks the container’s on-board computer to ensure that the data is within the established parameters. Otherwise, the container will be rejected and would result in delays, connections or even its return or destruction. This would entail associated costs. These parameters will depend on each destination country, but it should always be checked that the fruit has remained at least the same or lower temperature throughout the entire journey from its beginning.

What are the stone fruits that we subject to this treatment?

In Spain we can find a wide variety of stone fruits, thanks to our large number of areas with high solar radiation, which benefit their production by enhancing their flavor, aroma, color and sugar content.

They all share something: their harvest season covers the hottest months in Spain and they are ideal in both variety and flavor to enjoy in summer.

This seasonal stone fruit is characterized by having a low glycemic index, few calories, a high water content and a lot of fiber (especially peaches). Ideal elements to combat cholesterol, in addition to vitamins A and C and antioxidants, as well as minerals such as potassium, very beneficial for the body.

When we talk about stone fruits we can divide them into several types:

  • With many bones.
  • Bone congress.
  • With pips.
  • With bone or seeds.
  • Boneless.

Stone fruit varieties and their season in Spain

  • Peach: Its season is from May to September. It has few calories and a lot of water. It stands out in antioxidants and vitamin C, in fact, one piece covers 20% of the recommended daily intake.
  • Apricot: Its season is from May to September. It is like a small peach although with non-hairy skin. It is an excellent source of vitamin A, potassium, calcium and magnesium.
  • Paraguayan: Its season is from May to August. It is another variant of the peach but flattened. It stands out in carotenes and minerals such as potassium, phosphorus, calcium and iron.
  • Nectarine: Season from May to September. It is a variant of the peach, although with non-hairy skin. Ideal for people who suffer from hypertension because it is low in sodium.
  • Cherry: Season from April to August. Provides antioxidants and vitamins that help the heart. Thanks to the melanin it contains, it helps you sleep peacefully.
  • Plum: Its season is from April to August. It is an excellent antioxidant and has extra fiber and water, this keeps digestion and transit regulated. The red plum can be eaten fresh and combines well with all types of meat.
  • Medlar: Its season is from March to June. Its pulp is orange and sweet, it is a source of vitamins C and E, potassium, phosphorus, calcium and iron. It is satiating and diuretic, perfect for avoiding fluid retention.

International transport of stone fruit from Spain

Conservación del melocotón

Export stone fruit to Europe

The main export destinations of stone fruits from Spain are:

  • Germany
  • France
  • Italy
  • Netherlands
  • United Kingdom and Switzerland (outside the EU)

Shipments of Spanish stone fruit in 2021 obtained figures up to 18% lower than in 2020, and 9% lower than in the last 5 years, with a value of €217 million, which is 13% less than in 2020, but 7% higher than in the last 5 years.

Export stone fruit outside Europe

The most common exports outside Europe are:

  • Brazil and China (plum).
  • USA (apricot).
  • China (peach).
  • Mexico and South Africa (stone fruit).
  • Thailand (cherry)
  • Export of stone fruit and others to third countries

At Antonio Marco, given the great experience acquired in the export sector of stone fruit to other countries and therefore, in the international transport of fruits, we follow a series of solid steps throughout the process always taking into account:

  • Period for applications for plots and warehouses. They must be carried out by the operator on their corresponding dates.
  • Period for review and formalization of requests by the EA.
  • Period for submission of modifications. By the operator.
  • Review and validation period. By the Autonomous Communities.
  • First warehouse inspection period.
  • Duration of the campaign.

All of these required steps have a specific date for submitting documents, which may vary each year and which must be checked and in no case exceeded.

These steps must be followed with the general guidelines established for export campaigns prepared by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. These can be consulted in the “management” module of the CEXVEG vegetable foreign trade computer app.

In general, they are fruits that should be selected a little firm and green, because they continue to ripen once harvested, except for cherries. They are best kept out of the refrigerator while they ripen. When they have reached their point, it is better to leave them in the refrigerator for no more than 5-7 days.

At Antonio Marco we use Cold-Treatment in an experienced, professional and effective manner, given that we are specialists in the temperature-controlled logistics sector. We also export via international routes, which allows our company to reach various destinations, being a company that is more than prepared to carry out international fruit transportation.


Producers and exporters of stone fruit from Murcia
Stone fruit: Decrease in exports

Stone fruit production has been in decline in recent years. Without going any further, last year, European production of peaches and nectarines was 2.8 million tons, which was 20% less than in 2020 and the lowest in the last decade.

In general, we find a general decrease in all types of stone fruit, with one exception, that of cherries, which has managed to increase its exported volume. In general, according to the forecast made by Cooperativas Agro-alimentarias de España, it is expected that for this 2022 campaign, stone fruit production in Spain will be reduced even further, up to 31%.

However, regarding the market, it is expected that the stone or seed fruit sector can have a balanced impact on the increase in costs that have skyrocketed due to the war in Ukraine, which both farmers and cooperatives are bearing, and fruit transport companies, it is expected that the quotes achieved will compensate for the losses in productivity of the majority of farms.

Producers and exporters of stone fruit from Murcia.

Although spring frosts throughout Europe have meant the lowest production in the last 10 years, Spain included, the Region of Murcia has been the C.A. Spanish in which this decline has occurred to a lesser extent.

Specifically in Murcia, the production of stone fruit or seeds has fallen by 9% compared to 2020, and up to 16% less compared to the last 5 years.