Strawberries from the area of Vrgorac in the Dalmatian Hinterland are renowned for being the best in Croatia.
Every spring, marketgoers seek out the distinct blue punnets and official quality label which set Vrgorac strawberries out from the rest.
Earlier this year, the City of Vrgorac decided to award the Vrgorac Quality Label to its family farms that meet the required criteria with the aim of clearly differentiating products from Vrgorac from the competition, raising and maintaining the quality of these products and encouraging their sale on the local, regional and national market.
So what makes strawberries from the Vrgorac area so good? According to the daily Jutarnji List, who spoke with local producers, a number of factors.
“I am the third generation of strawberry growers in the family. The secret to the quality of Vrgorac strawberries is an abundance of sunshine, the water source, and the fertile karst fields. And of course along with a lot of our efforts. Strawberries are best compared to children, there is work 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, I am always on the move, there is always something to do with them, but you get used to it,” says Matej Vujcic from a Quality Label awarded local Vrgorac family farm.
Another local producer, Smiljana Dropulić, says Vrgorac strawberries are so sweet because of the microclimate.
“There are big differences between day and night temperatures, what sugar they get during the day, they do not lose at night because it gets cold, and we also have suitable soil, various studies have shown that the composition of our country is very good. In addition, we have spring water next to the estates on which we grow them. That is why other strawberries do not have the shine that ours from Vrgorac have,” she says.
Dropulić says she is pleased that her product has received the label of recognition and quality because she believes that it is extremely important that customers always know what they are buying.
Another quality label producer, Mate Erceg says it is important to also look to the future and ways to ensure they keep producing a top product.
“Our goal is to improve production, which will result in improved strawberry quality. Our strawberries are already of excellent quality, but I believe that there is always room for improvement. In the past, production took place outdoors, while more recently, strawberries are produced in greenhouses. In this way, we can control the conditions more and produce a quality strawberry. In the future, this can certainly be improved by introducing heated greenhouses that have the ability to measure temperature, control humidity, and automatic irrigation. All of the above positively affects the quality and quantity of the crop,” Erceg says.
In the area of Vrgorac, there are about 450 family farms that produce tonnes of strawberries, peaches, and nectarines, plums, pears, apples, potatoes and garlic, as much as 85 percent of table grapes come from Vrgorac, so in addition to strawberries that first received this label, the Vrgorac Quality Label also goes to peaches, nectarines, honey, wine, and grapes.