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concern among producers and retailers
Bad weather conditions sink broccoli production in Spain
Spanish growers of broccoli and European retailers share similar concerns about how to meet the demand of consumers while facing a campaign with lower amounts of harvested fresh produce than expected. The broccoli and cauliflower supply is well below the market demand and the proximity to the Christmas season, which traditionally sees an increase in orders, adds to the worries.
"Producers of broccoli in Spain and particularly in the Region of Murcia are struggling to meet supply programs agreed with clients" says managing director of the Association of Producers of Fruits and Vegetables in Murcia (PROEXPORT), Fernando P. Gomez.
PROEXPORT estimated that the decline in Spanish productions of broccoli and cauliflower during these weeks is close to 45%. "For example, Proexport associated companies have seen how their exports decreased by 30.8%, totalling 9.1 million kilos, in the last three months compared to the same period last year. The impact of the weather conditions has been devastating".
Persistent rains in the wettest November
Among the causes of the situation PROEXPORT points out the followings: last October severe flooding in production areas such as the Guadalentín Valley (Lorca, Puerto Lumbreras and Totana, mainly) and persistent rains across the southeast of Spain in November and early December. Floods destroyed hundreds of cultivated hectares waiting to be harvested the rain sponsored the development of diseases like botrytis and alternaria in broccoli and cauliflower. These diseases reduced harvesting as much of the produce did not comply with quality requirements for marketing to consumers. Winter cold just arrived in Spain causing a vegetative break in plants, so a change in the current situation is not expected for the coming weeks.
According to the State Meteorological Agency (AEMET) during the month of November the average rainfall in the Region of Murcia was 66 liters per square meter which is 270% above the historic average. It also stresses the high number of days in which precipitation was recorded: 17 days, which is the highest value since 1971.
A second factor is added to the above, according to Fernando Gomez: "while main producers maintained their usual plantations as programmed in advance with their customers, sadly many individual farmers and small agribusinesses in Spain and Italy were forced to stop growing due to the difficulties of the previous season, in which prices in origin were below cost for many weeks".
PROEXPORT has been warning for years that the aggressive pricing and supplying negotiations of many European retailers would eventually severely damage the income of farmers and Europe's ability to produce fruits and vegetables.
The few free productions that are being marketed these days ended in high prices and required Murcian exporters to purchase broccoli directly or through fresh produce actions to complete their supply programs. "Our companies and farmers are committed to retailers and consumers, for this reason they are buying at exorbitant prices in order to supply produce as committed, but still there is not enough product available at home to meet supply programs", says Gomez.
Spain, with an export of 288.298 MT in 2011, is the leading producer of broccoli and cauliflower in Europe, having a market share of 44%. This figure rises to 60% when considering just broccoli. The second country producer is France (25%), although production there is basically cauliflower, while Italy and Poland, with 9 and 3% respectively are also concentrated in broccoli.
Within Spain, Murcia is the main producing area, concentrating 65% of exported broccoli and Cauliflower (190.253Tm) making this sector a major generator of jobs in the area.
The United Kingdom, Germany and Holland are, in this order, the main buyers of broccoli from the Region of Murcia.
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