The low prices at origin of fruits and vegetables are putting the profitability and future of the Spanish fruit and vegetable sector in jeopardy. A kilo of cucumbers has come to cost less than 16 cents in recent weeks, and smooth tomato prices have dropped to 14 cents. However, this drop has not been reflected in the retail prices paid by the European consumer, according to the agricultural associations.
The president of the Sectorial Council of Cooperativas Agro-alimentarias of Spain and also president of the Association of Organizations of Fruit and Vegetable Producers of Almería (Coexphal), Juan Antonio del Real, said that this sharp drop in all prices in October and November has raised alarms in areas such as Almería, Granada or Murcia, where there have been protests. Del Real says that the sector has jointly agreed to the market withdrawal of 30% of the cucumber production, for which up to 60 cents per kilo were paid at this time last year.
Faced with this situation, the Fepex fruit and vegetable federation, in which Coexphal (Almería) and Proexport (Murcia), among others, are integrated, has asked the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food to report to the European Commission (EC) about the need for new exceptional crisis management measures in the face of the "serious low price situation."
Brussels will also be asked to activate the cooperation and safeguard clauses to curb the increase in low-priced fruit and vegetable imports from Morocco, whose tomato shipments to Spain exceeded for the first time last season the volume exported by Almeria's greenhouses.
The UPA-Andalusia association, handling data on Foreign Trade from the Spanish Tax Agency, says that the volume of fruit and vegetables shipped by Morocco between January and September 2020 stands at 428,640 tons, compared to 361,000 tons in the whole of the 2019 financial year.
Fepex also recalled that the Netherlands has already managed to allow its production to compete with the Spanish all year round.
The national technical manager of Asaja for fruit and vegetables, José Ugarrio, says that the "ruinous prices" in Murcia and Andalusia are not due to overproduction and believes that "more attention should be paid to the bottleneck in the distribution."
Representing COAG, the head for fruit and vegetables, Andrés Góngora, said that during the first days of December, "some prices, such as those of tomato or zucchini, have improved somewhat, but not substantially (that of cucumbers is still far too low) and "remain below the cost of production." Góngora also mentions the impact of Moroccan competition. "In the Spanish wholesale markets there are 250 gram tubs of cherry tomatoes for 20 cents."
Source: Efe / andaluciainformacion.es