UK is target for £150,000 annual marketing campaign over the next three years Canary Island tomato growers backed by local and national government have taken a step which could lead to a regional brand at retail level to give their fruit a stronger identity. Eduardo Pinado-Mascareno, director general of Proexca, the islands' promotional organisation, confirmed that the UK would be the target of an annual £150,000 marketing campaign over the next three years. The programme will run in two stages, from November to January and from February to March and will be managed through Foods from Spain. "We have taken a major step forward this season," he said. "We believe this work could lead to the development of a regional brand on retail shelves. "We have a long and proud tradition selling to the UK where our quality consistently makes premium prices at trade level because of flavour." The Canaries plays a major role in fulfilling UK winter demands. Tenerife, Gran Canaria and Fuerteventura annually export a total of 47 million 6kg cartons, of which more than 40% is sent direct to the UK. On November 9, a new temperature controlled terminal will be opened at Southampton by Associated British Ports. This year the season is about a week later and will be under way by October 20. However there are many in the industry, comprising a mix of co-operatives and independent grower/packers, many of whom operate their own UK sales offices, who recognise the sector will also become more competitive. Just below the horizon is the threat of larger volumes of cheaper Moroccan fruit currently constrained by an EU quota which the Canarians already claim has been abused. If a new deal is brokered the effects could be felt in two months or less. These tomatoes would mainly go to France and Germany which would put pressure on the Canaries to send more of their tomatoes to the UK and Scandinavia. Also part of the larger equation is the ongoing effect of the Spanish mainland production which is a similar size and has greater flexibility, distributing throughout Europe by road. The other Canary response is to boost yieldls using new technology and searching for a new variety which will further ensure its own special place on the market. {{FRESH PRODUCE }}