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Spain: Murcia's horticultural exports grow in value and fall in volume

According to data from the Association of Producers-Exporters of Fruits and Vegetables of the Region of Murcia (PROEXPORT), based on information from the customs authorities, exports of fresh fruit and vegetables from the Region of Murcia during the 2015-2016 campaign (from September 2015 to 31 August 2016) recorded a 4.8% increase in value compared to the previous period, reaching 2,457.9 million Euro. In contrast, the volume of Murcia's horticultural exports fell by 6.7%, down to 2,445,729 tonnes.


Source: PROEXPORT with data from customs authorities. Non-consolidated data.

According to Fernando Gómez, director of Proexport, "the figures point to an improvement in the profitability of Murcia's exports as a whole, although at the expense of a reduction in the volumes shipped, in a campaign that has been difficult, with very irregular productions, mostly because of climatological factors. This year, however, our main concern is the unresolved water deficit and the impact of Brexit for the economy of a sector for which the UK is the second most important destination."

In any case, the figures show that the Region of Murcia accounts for 20% of the total volume and value of Spanish fruit and vegetable exports in the 2015-2016 campaign, standing only behind the Region of Valencia and Andalusia.

Vegetables
As far as vegetables are concerned, a total of 1,222,896 tonnes have been exported by the Region of Murcia, which is 0.5% less than in the 2014-2015 season; however, the Region recorded a 3.6% increase in the value of those exports, reaching 1,165.6 million Euro (23.19% of the national total). The recovery of the value of exports was observed from February, since until then the considerably lower than average prices had made it necessary to regulate certain productions at origin.

Lettuce, with 518,848 tonnes shipped to foreign destinations (2.4% more than in the previous year) is the product contributing the most to the regional fruit and vegetable exports. 70.1% of the lettuces exported by Spain are sold by the Region of Murcia, with most of the production handled by Proexport. In terms of value, lettuce exports during the 2015-2016 marketing year totalled 449.6 million Euro, a 9.5% increase.

Next in the ranking are brassicas (broccoli, cauliflower and other cabbages), which generated 263.6 million Euro in the 2015-2016 campaign; 6.4% more than in the previous season. The volume exported amounted to 254,891 tonnes, a 0.9% increase. This figure accounts for 69.7% of Spain's total exports of these products.

It is worth noting that tomatoes, the third vegetable in importance for the Region of Murcia, recorded a significant drop in exports (about 24.1% in the 2015-2016 season), from 125,196 to 95,019 tonnes. According to Proexport, the strong growth of demand in the domestic market is mostly to blame for this. There are other factors, such as unfair competition from Morocco, and the fact that producers increasingly prefer to grow tomato varieties with a better flavour, more added value and higher prices, even if this entails producing lower volumes. In the marketing year 2015-2016, 10.3% of the country's tomato exports came from the Region of Murcia and reached a value of 87.6 million Euro.

Not in terms of volume, but in value, peppers have already surpassed tomato exports in the Region of Murcia during the 2015-2016 campaign, since they reached 127.7 million Euro (+2.9%). In this period, 92,216 tonnes of peppers were exported, which is 3.6% more than in the previous season, with Campo de Cartagena as the main producing area.

Celery is the fifth most important vegetable for Murcia's exporters. Its production was affected by the decreased rainfall and the lack of phytosanitary authorizations in Spain, which had an impact on exports. In the marketing year 2015-2016, celery exports fell by 37.1% in volume, to 43,360 tonnes, and by 38.1% in value, reaching 30.3 million Euro.

 
Source: PROEXPORT with data from customs authorities. Non-consolidated data.

Fruit 
As regards fruit, the Region of Murcia recorded a 12.2% drop in the export volume in the 2015-2016 campaign, going from 1,392,682 tonnes to 1,222,832 tonnes. In contrast, its value increased by 5.8% and amounted to 1,292 million Euro.

Lemons are the citrus fruit accounting for the largest volume in this section, with 351,705 tonnes exported; 20.6% less than in the previous season. The small supply available at origin led to exports reaching a much higher value than in the previous season, amounting to 474 million Euro (+21.4%).

Meanwhile, melons recorded similar figures in the 2015-2016 marketing year, with exports standing at 228,243 tonnes worth 159.6 million Euro; 11.2% more than in the previous season. The Region markets 52% of all the melons exported by the country, taking all varieties into account.

The volume of watermelons exported has also remained stable compared to the 2014-2015 campaign, reaching 160,865 tonnes, and their value has increased by 12.6%, to 68 million Euro. According to Proexport, this is mostly due to the selection of seedless varieties with a great flavour, which results in the fruit being increasingly appreciated by the international consumer.

Lastly, during the 2015-2016 marketing year, 90,882 tonnes of table grapes (2.2% more) were exported from the Region of Murcia, with the markets paying a total of 186.3 million Euro (1.2% more than in the previous season). These shipments account for 63% of the country's total.

Destination countries
The main destination countries for Murcia's fruit and vegetables are mostly in Europe. Germany is in first place with 26%, followed by the United Kingdom with 21%, France with 17%, the Netherlands with 9%, Italy with 5%, Poland with 4% and Sweden with 3%. These 7 countries account for 85% of the total shipments.

These are followed by a long list of countries that already includes many overseas countries, such as Saudi Arabia, Canada, the United States, China, the United Arab Emirates and others. According to the director of Proexport, these latter markets will be the ones where "it will be necessary to concentrate our commercial and logistical efforts in the coming years, not only to expand the current market share, but also to reduce the pressure on the European market, where consumption levels have remained too stable in recent years. This will require, in turn, a specialization of the production, particularly targeted to those destinations, with varieties, formats, flavours, textures and a marketing that suits those consumers. It will be essential to guarantee added value when competing with their local productions or other international suppliers."


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