Despite these good prospects, artichoke producers believe that the lack of rainfall (with barely any recorded since 2014) may have a negative impact on the crop yields, although they are used to dealing with increasingly difficult climatological conditions due to rising temperatures, among other issues. "If it rains and it gets cold, but without any severe frosts, the campaign will go well," assures Pedro Herrera, vice president of Alcachofa de España.
The lack of water is a cause for concern mainly for the producers of one of the largest growing areas: Campo de Cartagena, in Murcia, who are being severely hit by this problem. In spite of this, the losses that may be caused to the most affected areas will be compensated with an increase of about 20% in the production of other areas, such as Valle del Guadalentín, in Murcia, the Vega Baja del Segura, in Alicante, Valencia, Navarre and Zafarraya, in Granada.
"Spanish artichokes are currently in a good situation, but with certain fears given the lack of water, so we are working hard to ensure that the production grows every year, even if it is not by much. However, the Government hasn't shown any firm commitments to find a solution or devised a proper national plan," denounces Herrera.
The meeting came to a close with the participation of the CEO of the French company Soleil Roi International, Marcello Gomes, which imports Spanish artichokes. This producer reported that the average consumption of this vegetable in France oscillates between 900 grams and 1 kilo per inhabitant per year. This is higher than in previous years, since they have focused on explaining the product's nutritional values among young people. The volume of fresh artichokes produced in Spain's neighbouring country amounts to 55,000 tonnes, 20% of which is intended for domestic consumption and another 80% is exported, mainly to the United Kingdom. "The artichoke that arrives in France to fill the gap in the supply between November and March is the white of Tudela and the Zambo and Calicó hybrids," he points out.
Spanish artichokes for freezing, threatened by arrivals from Egypt
Meanwhile, the artichokes for canning and freezing recorded a stable (but not remarkable) growth last season. The main problem ahead of the new campaign affects the latter, mostly due to the imports arriving from countries such as Egypt (which account for between 25% and 30% of the frozen artichokes that are consumed in Spain), whose quality is lower. This could cause consumption and the demand from the processing companies in Spain to fall and, consequently, prices would drop, according to Antonio Navarro, executive director of Ultracongelados Azarbe, a partner company of the non-profit organization.
In spite of this, the Spanish artichoke production for freezing has grown by 15% in the 2016/2017 season, reaching 20,000 tonnes, while exports have remained stable with its approximate annual increase of 15%.
A network for all restaurants that offer authentic Spanish artichokes
The association continues its commitment to online communication with its active presence in social media. During the event, it announced that the start of the new season coincided with the launch of a microsite within its website (http://alcachofa.es/), which has been designed to promote the network of restaurants in the country that offer authentic artichokes from Spain. These are free to join and will be able to do so by means of a simple form. This way, the site's visitors will be able to locate all restaurants that prepare dishes with artichokes.
In return, the restaurants will receive a kit with information of interest about the association, its flagship vegetable and various ways of cooking it, as well as promotional material for its customers.