The cold in Almeria is having an impact on the vegetable sector, both at a productive and marketing level.
"Although it is sunny during the day, the nights are longer and colder. The lower temperatures have caused the production to slow down a lot, and products like cucumbers are seeing a notable recovery of prices. This also coincides with the boom in the demand for vegetables that typically happens after the Christmas holidays," explains José Antonio Baños, president of Ejidomar.
"The same goes for zucchini and eggplant, which have been sold for ridiculously low prices during much of the season, but have now reached fairly high levels, with around 1.85 €/kilo for zucchini and more than 2.20 €/kg for black eggplant. There is little availability of zucchini and eggplant in Spain, and the lower production in Italy (due to adverse weather conditions in recent months, with abundant rains and frosts) has also had an impact," said the exporter.
The company's business is based mostly in the production of bell peppers, in which they are specialists. They also grow watermelons in the spring and summer months, as well as zucchini, cucumbers and eggplants. Germany is the main market for Ejidomar in Europe.
According to José Antonio Baños, peppers are not being affected by the temperature changes. "Their production and prices remain more stable. In fact, prices have so far stood more or less at the same level throughout the campaign."
Almeria's pepper production is increasing every year. "Many growers bet on this vegetable because it guarantees more stability when it comes to production and prices, as well as greater security in terms of profitability," he says. Although Almeria's peppers compete mainly with Israel in the European markets, "this country has been strongly focused on the Russian market since the veto was introduced, so it doesn't affect us too much."
José Antonio Baños also highlights the increase in pepper sales in the United States, a market to which they have been exporting for more than 20 years. "This year, we are shipping a lot to the US market, which currently accounts for around 10% of our total pepper sales. Also, the competition with Mexico is not being that strong, although its quality is not at the same level as that of Almeria. We ship premium quality peppers to this market, superior even to the ones we sell in Europe. The prices are very interesting, although only a few companies in Almeria are shipping to this market, due, in part, to the high risks involved."