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Spain: Grupo Ian steady despite drought and economic stormThere have been many reports recently about the effects of economic problems and lack of rain on life in Spain. News such as this raises questions about the impact on vegetable cultivation and food production.
Grupo IAN, an organisation based in the country that produces a wide range of products, are perfectly placed to get an understanding of how things are going in relation to two big products - peppers and tomatoes.
Grupo IAN are expecting to purchase 46,000 tonnes of tomatoes this year, of the varieties Perfectpeel, Vulcan, Soto, H-9036, H-8902 and Red Sky. As well as this they are looking to purchase 2,200 tonnes of California, Lamuyo and Piquillo peppers. Their main market is domestic.
Most of the tomatoes purchased are for use in sauces of either a Spanish or Italian style. Peppers are used as an ingredient in sauces or as a ingredient for ready to eat salads.
But do the figures involved in this year's sourcing of vegetables tell us anything of the state of production and consumption and the effects of the economic downturn in Spain?
Javier Burgui, category purchasing manager at IANSAU says, "The downturn is affecting consumption mainly of products which are not considered commodity items. For example, there is a reduction in consumption of Piquillo peppers currently. However, tomatoes are running better and we are keeping to a similar purchase as we did the previous year. The problem for tomato growers is not that the demand is lacking, rather that there is an overproduction that exceeds this demand."
Javier says the indications are that the quality of the fresh produce they purchase this year will be good and should not suffer with the drought that is currently affecting parts of the Iberian peninsula.
"Our supply will start in August when the harvest of the tomatoes takes place. Of the areas where we purchase, Extremadura and Andalucia are not suffering any drought problems at the moment as reserves of water there are sufficient. In Aragon and Navarra there are some affected areas and the growers there can only plant 25% of the surface due to a lack of water, but the big problem is with corn, not vegetables."
He added that Grupo IAN did not anticipate any shortages as a result of the drought. "We do not expect any difficulties as irrigation is in place."
Furthermore Javier was not concerned about the quality being affected. "Quality is a key issue for us, but from a flavour perspective and from colour uniformity, brix content, sourness, ripeness. I mean, the produce must be harvested at the right moment, but we don't pay attention to the shape or the size, which are important qualities for fresh produce."
There were exceptions though, he added. "Unless we are talking about Piquillo peppers, which are enjoyed stuffed, then the appearance is important," he said.
So it seems that, despite the reports of turbulent economics and inclement weather, there are some examples of successful 'business as usual' from some quarters.
For more information please visit www.grupoian.com or www.carretilla.com
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