Broccoli prices are sky-high

"Spain: "The lower production is having an impact on product mixes"

Besides the delays in the planting in Almeria this year and a greater presence of pests, there has also been a drop in temperatures, which has caused the production of most greenhouse vegetables to slow down in a period when the demand is usually high in most international markets due to the Christmas celebrations.

Tomatoes have been one of the most affected products, since the supply is around 20% lower than at this same time last year. "Tomato prices have been good throughout the season, especially for tomatoes on the vine, since in addition to the reduced plantings this year across Almeria, the start of the campaign was delayed at a time when the market had no supply of Dutch production. To this we must add the excessive drop in temperatures in recent weeks, which has ground the plants' production to a halt," says Diego Calderón, of the marketing department of Unica Group, which accounts for around 10% of Almeria's total production.

Other products have also been affected, such as cucumbers, which are marketed by the company all year round, courgettes or orange peppers, which are more sensitive than peppers of other colours.

"This slowdown in the production is having an impact on the marketing of the increasingly popular product mixes, such as tricolour or traffic light packs and specialty tomato mixes. Depending on the market and production conditions, some colours are usually more expensive than others, and this year those differences are even greater," says Diego Calderón.

"While in Spain we enjoy the advantage of having plenty of hours of sunshine and a lot of wind, both necessary for the optimal production of vegetables, our disadvantage is that the greenhouses are less hermetic and are more vulnerable to temperature drops than the Dutch greenhouses, which are equipped with heating," he explains.

Unica Group also produces broccoli all year round, and this campaign is being really tough in all of Europe due to the fact that Murcia, the continent's main broccoli supplier during the autumn and winter, is being affected by the cold temperatures with occasional frosts. The issue is that Murcian growers have planted in colder areas this year due to the lack of water.

"Broccoli prices are sky-high at the moment," says Diego Calderón. "Thanks to the fact that this year we have planted in Tudela, Navarre, we are fulfilling our programs without any problems. It is proving to be a safe area for broccoli production. We are very satisfied with it area and we will continue betting on it."

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