The unique qualities of European Picota cherries have been showcased to the UK trade sector as part of a summer promotional campaign to boost awareness and consumption of the premium fruit.
The exclusive event took place in a private function room at Iberica, Marylebone, in London last month. The guests included Picota retail buyers, importers, trade press, representatives from the Spanish Embassy in the UK and the Spanish Chamber of Commerce. The gathering featured an authentic tapas lunch with European Picota cherries at its heart.
A special menu was jointly created by Iberica Group head chef Cesar Garcia and Iberica head chef Jesus Ara and included such creations as pickled beetroot and horseradish granita with orange, Picota cherries and fresh Picota cherry juice; marinated yellowfin tuna loin with ajoblanco, almonds and pickled Picotas; and a Rubia gallega beef fillet with coffee and beetroot purée, smoked Picota cherries and bone marrow sauce.
The objective of the event was to inform the trade audience of the many benefits of the stalkless European Picota cherry, which is renowned for its premium taste and quality. Whilst slightly smaller than other cherry varieties, Picotas are sweeter, firmer and have an attractive deep red appearance. Despite their exceptionally high quality, the Picota is sold at a competitive price point and is regarded as an affordable, healthy, and versatile product that is perfect for snacking or adding to a wide variety of sweet and savoury dishes.
A series of expert talks gave the guests further information on the background, production methods and current market for European Picota cherries. Ana Esther Luengo, sales manager at growers’ association Agrupación de Cooperativas Valle del Jerte, outlined the fruit’s unique selling points, as well as the traditional Jerte Valley production techniques. Emma Gough, senior agriculture consultant at Promar International, provided an overview of the cherry market, while John Valentine, managing director of RED Communications, discussed the promotional campaign in the UK.
The campaign aims to raise consumption by maximising visibility at point of sale, communicating the added value of the fruit and positioning them as the ideal natural summer snack or versatile ingredient. A wide range of in-store and online retailer activity is being backed by UK influencer and consumer magazine content based around recipe development.
Promotional activity comes during a strong production season for Spain, according to Agrupación de Cooperativas Valle Del Jerte. Excellent conditions and high sunshine hours have resulted in a crop that is of the highest quality, beautifully sweet and crunchy in texture.
Some 40% of the 5 million kgs projected to be harvested will be shipped to the UK, which is the major market for Picota cherries. “We are only at the start of the season but feel very optimistic about the quality and volumes meeting expectations this year,” said the group’s export manager Miguel Ángel Durán.