Over the past five to ten years, the market for tomatoes grown in Spain has declined, while bell peppers and cucumbers have been rising. However, the recent energy crisis in northern Europe has reversed that downward trend.
"That's because you don't have to heat Spanish greenhouses, and there's more market demand for tomatoes, bell peppers, and cucumbers," says Guillaume Lacarriere, who heads Bayer's vegetable seed business in the EMEA region. We spoke to him at their permanent booth at the World Horticulture Center in the Netherlands.
Bayer had expected Spanish-cultivated tomatoes' popularity to rise; the energy crisis just accelerated that development. Spanish tomato growers also anticipated this, Guillaume explains: they would invest more in their crop and partner with Dutch growers. "That's needed because, per hectare, tomatoes are less profitable than bell peppers or cucumbers."
Nico van Vliet and Guillaume Lacarriere
Guillaume highlights the move toward specialties like cherry tomatoes as another development in Spain. "That's about prices - specialties are more profitable for the same kilos," he says.
Ultimately it comes down to profit for the grower. "They're constantly asking themselves: where can I compete? It's about both short and long-term profitability. There's an opportunity to grow more tomatoes in Spain, and now it's up to the growers to determine if that's profitable. An important consideration is that more than 75% of Spanish production is for export. And I expect to see a shift to more technology in the future."
Will Zuijderwijk, Guillaume Lacarriere, Puck van Holsteijn, Svetlana Tokunova, Nico van Vliet, and Jack Enthoven raising their glasses
World Horti Center
Guillaume shared about the Spanish market from Bayer Seeds' new permanent stand at the World Horti Center. Nico van Vliet explains that this breeding company wanted to build a bridge between the De Ruiter Experience Center and the World Horti Center, thus creating a 'flywheel effect.'
The stand will draw attention to not only the high-tech segment but also mid-tech and open-field. "Think of broccoli and melons, where we're the market leader. We can supply melons from countries like Spain, Brazil, and Senegal, but that all goes through the Dutch hub. That's why we want to be here with those varieties," Guillaume concludes.
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Nico van Vliet