The Spanish horticultural region Almería has been hit by severe hail storms. First estimates say 1,000 hectares of greenhouses were affected, of what 10 to 200 per cent is completely demolished. One person has died after becoming trapped inside his greenhouse during the hail storm.
First a flood
"First a flood in September and now this hail storm. The truth is that this is becoming a very difficult campaign. The weather is not giving us any rest," says Miguel López, manager of the production and marketing company Costa de Níjar, who refers to the rain demolishing over 200 hectares of greenhouses in the region last September.
The firm's producer-partners who escaped the floods have now been affected by storm Gloria, which has mainly hit the area of Níjar in the form of hail. Some growers will lose up to 75% of the production. "Although the production itself is not insured, at least our partners have insurance for the structures of their greenhouses," he said.
The mayor of Níjar, Esperanza Pérez, has said that there is still no final assessment of the damage caused by the hail and heavy rainfall. The first estimates point to about 150 farms, mainly collapsed greenhouses. The commission of Natural Disasters has already been set up and the first data has already been evaluated. There is talk of about 1,000 hectares affected in Níjar, which is more than 30% of the municipality's acreage.
Shocking video of the collapse of a greenhouse filmed by an agricultural producer
“We have lost 50% of our organic eggplant (the most affected product), although we have also lost a good part of our cherry tomato and zucchini production. Cucumbers are also planted in this area," says Miguel López.
The greenhouses located in the areas affected by the storm have accumulated a great amount of water. It is feared that, in the next few days, this excess moisture will possibly affect the crops due to the impact of fungal diseases.
Carmen Crespo, Councilor of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Sustainable Development of the Government of Andalusia, has visited the area that was most severely hit by the hailstorm. A plenary session was convened and two days of official mourning will be declared for the death of a local of this town.
Due to the awful weather, the European vegetable markets are affected as well. Over the last weeks the region had to deal with cold and now there's even more pressure on Spanish production volumes. That, in turn, means some products' prices remain high. That is, according to Philip van Geest of Van Geest International. This company is based in De Lier, the Netherlands.
"For example, cucumbers are very expensive. Prices of €10.50 and up to €12 are being reported for a box of smaller sized cucumbers. The larger ones are selling at between €12.50 and €14. The stormy weather of recent weeks is undoubtedly to blame for this. There is also an excellent demand, and many German retailers are 'into cucumbers'. More and more Dutch cucumbers are also arriving on the scene. Current prices are, therefore, sky-high all round."
Courgettes / aubergines
"Courgettes are also competing with cucumbers when it comes to high prices. They are selling for between €10.50 and €13 per box. Maroccan courgettes are slightly less expensive at €9 or €9.50 per box. Yellow courgettes from being flown in from Israel. They are going for the top price of €40/4kg box," says Philip. "There were not all that many aubergines in recent weeks. This made for a price increase of €8 per 5kg box, to between €11 and €13."
Bell pepper prices are calmer, going for €6.50 to €8 per a box of reds. Yellow bell peppers are selling at €8 or €9/box. The green ones are priced even lower at between €4 and €4,50 per box. That could be considered cheap. There is a limited supply of orange bell peppers. This is partly due to the demand from the United States. The price for this variety climbed from €8.50 to as high as €14/box for a tiny volume."
"There are enough tomatoes. Although, people say the Moroccan production is going to fall in the coming weeks. The quality of this product varies considerably on the market. Current prices are between €5.50 and €6.50", the trader says. "TOV prices have risen a little due to a general increase in demand. They were still going for €5.50 per box last week. At the moment, we already see prices of more than €7. This is also because the Dutch product is selling at around €8. These were going for €7, just a few days ago."
"Beef tomatoes are expensive - about €8.50 to €10. There is not much that is good about this. Brown spots and soft fruit have quickly been found. Cherry tomatoes are relatively cheap. There is sufficient product on the market. These come from Spain, Senegal, Morocco, and Egypt. They are priced cheaply at roughly €3 or €4 for a 9x250 box. The yellow variety is of very poor quality, and many are being turned down. Good quality ones are selling for between €6,50 and €7.50 per box.
"February is now in sight and the bad weather a thing of the past. I, therefore, do not expect any problem-free weeks when it comes to quality. And, so, more will simply be paid for better products. The very high prices for some products will have to plateau or drop a bit. These products include cucumbers, aubergines, and courgettes," concludes Philip.