The tomato season cannot seem to get going at Horticola Guadalfeo in Motril, Spain. "These are shortages everywhere," says Ellen van Kester. "We're transitioning from the mountain growing season to that on the coast. But there's hardly any volume available. That's for both the specialties and standard varieties. Supplies should, however, increase to their normal level within a couple of weeks."
Horticola Guadalfeo has an unusual combination of specialty tomato and Chinese cabbage cultivation. "The Chinese cabbage is a small product, but we have both local and export customers for it. We, however, focus on the specialty tomatoes." For example, the company exclusively supplies MarAzul and Cherokee tomatoes. "We're the only supplier of these, which do well in the market. Every year we expand the acreage, but we also get more clients."
The company's local Spanish buyer base, especially, is growing. "I started here 15 years ago when 70% of our products were exported. The rest was sold on the domestic market. Now that ratio is pretty much reversed," says Ellen. In recent years, there have been fewer and fewer exports to, for instance, the Netherlands. "Nothing against my native country, but the further north you go in Europe, the fewer people spend on tasty products. Spaniards are more inclined to do that, though."
"Also, the fruit and vegetable plastic packaging ban is very topical here. That comes into effect from 2023 for packages of less than 1.5kg. Luckily, we've anticipated that with our cardboard and 100% biodegradable packaging."
The ToBRFV virus is not yet a problem in Spanish tomato cultivation. "But we see the problems in other European countries, so people are very alert," Ellen concludes.