The weather has caused considerable losses in the Spanish broccoli sector. There has been abundant rainfall in combination with higher temperatures than usual for autumn. The harvest started almost two weeks late this season. Despite the losses and the high demand, the prices have still hit rock bottom due to oversupply. So far, the season has been disastrous.
"The excess moisture and the high temperatures have caused a lot of quality issues due to diseases such as botrytis. A large part of the harvest, up to 70% in some areas of Murcia, had to be discarded," says Nacho Domènech, vice president of Proexport's Broccoli and Cauliflower department.
Despite the fact that the production has been reduced and the supply programs have been affected, "the prices remain below the production costs," says Domènech. "Even though we expected product shortages because of the losses caused by the rot and the high demand, there is still an oversupply." Italy is Spain's only competitor in the winter months and it has suffered the effects of the rain even more. Although some deny it, it seems that the broccoli acreage has grown quicker than expected, because it is not logical for prices to be so low while the demand is good, there have been so many losses and there is no competition from Italy."
Last year, the situation was different. "We had a difficult start of the season because of product shortages, but the prices remained high," says the exporter. "The transport strikes in France have also caused us damage this year, but that is something that our customers understood, because it was not our fault."
Cauliflower prices are also very low. "Unlike broccoli, this crop did not suffer as much from the rainfall, as there were no cases of botrytis, with the exception of alternaria, but since it has not been cold this fall, the cultivation in Spain has skyrocketed. In Europe, some regions where the harvest should already be finished have continued to grow the crop, including the region of Brittany and certain areas in England. We hope that temperatures will drop soon, so that the cauliflower and broccoli productions can be brought under control again," concludes Nacho Domènech.