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Thomas Hendrix, of Luis Andújar:

"Spain: "Specialty tomatoes have a difficult future ahead"

The Spanish tomato season is already in full swing after the delay in the harvest caused by high temperatures, although specialty tomatoes had a better start.

"Right now, it looks like everyone has agreed to market their crops at the same time," jokes Thomas Hendrix, of the commercial department of Luis Andújar. "There are already large volumes available, so prices are going down after the very high levels registered at the start."

Based in Almeria's Mediterranean coast, Luis Andújar concentrates its efforts on the production and marketing of specialty tomatoes on the vine, although its production system is relatively unique in the area.

"Fifteen years ago, we decided to focus on specialty tomatoes to avoid the highly competitive conventional tomato market. At that time, there were very few involved in this segment, but over time it has been growing in popularity among producers. Now competition in specialty tomatoes is already making things difficult," explains Hendrix.

The way in which Luis Andújar differentiates itself from the rest of Almeria's producers is through the cultivation of varieties from northern Europe, which require greenhouses equipped with heating. The firm is actually one of the few in Almeria with glass greenhouses equipped with cogeneration systems that use natural gas.

"Although the Netherlands is producing increasingly more tomatoes by means of artificial lighting, its supply is not in line with demand. We combine the optimal conditions of Almeria's sunshine with temperature control, so we can provide the same quality standards from September to June."

However, this entails much higher costs. "Our expenditure in fuel is comparable to the annual turnover of a grower working with the plastic greenhouses that are common in the area."

"Specialty tomatoes have a difficult future ahead"
"I believe the market for specialty tomatoes will grow in the coming years, especially because of the large increase in production. This will result in the opening of new markets where the product will reach consumers at similar prices to those of conventional tomatoes," states Hendrix. "From now on, those who fail to be competitive in this sector, seeking more direct lines and avoiding unnecessary costs, are doomed to fail."

Luis Andújar distributes its tomatoes mainly to British and German chains. As regards the Spanish market, Thomas Hendrix believes that "it is still too conservative for this kind of product, although Spain's socioeconomic context also needs to be taken into account."

For more information:
Thomas Hendrix
Luis Andújar S.L.U.
T: +34 950 36 79 96+34 950 36 79 96
[email protected]

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