When the production volume of most vegetables starts falling, it is time for melons and watermelons, the quintessential summer fruits. Their campaigns have already started and the production volumes are quickly increasing.
Producers and trading companies in the province of Almeria are already handling considerable volumes, but they are now dealing with a lack of market response.
The point is that the latest campaign was marked by a significant increase in the production of watermelons, as well as by prices that made the crop remarkably profitable.
The production went from 472 million kilos in the 2016/2017 campaign to 477.152 million kilos in the next one; a development that seems to have continued in the current campaign, in which around half a million kilos of watermelons are expected.
This growth led to the turnover increasing from 142.43 million Euro to 232.85 million Euro last season; a strong increase that was largely due to the rise in the average price, which went from 0.30 Euro in the 2016/2017 campaign to 0.49 Euro in 2018 (+66.6%).
The current production prospects are optimistic, as the good temperatures recorded this spring allowed for a good fruit setting, and both the volume and the quality are satisfactory. However, that production and quality are not being rewarded with equally satisfactory prices.
In the last two weeks, there have been two negative factors which have taken a toll on watermelon prices. The first has been the changes in the weather and the arrival of cold temperatures, which generally has a negative impact on the consumption of this fruit, both in Spain and in the European market.
The second factor has been the fact that the first watermelons have hit the market coinciding with Easter, a period in which the holidays and the massive departure of tourists to other parts of the country or Europe reduces the demand on the part of the distribution groups.
Thus, several of the main watermelon marketing companies in the province have acknowledged that although the production has arrived earlier than in previous campaigns, the stores are filling up with unsold product, which negatively affects prices.
The hope, in any case, is that there will be warmer temperatures in May, and that this will help bring the final production to 150 million kilos, "as the season of our Bouquet watermelons is being extended up until the month of October."