The Association of Fruit and Vegetable Producer Organizations of Almería, Coexphal, has taken stock of the past season in Almería, describing it as a good campaign. It also highlights what a big competitor Morocco has become for the Andalusian tomato exporting sector.
According to Coexphal data, Almería exported 475,661 tons of tomatoes in the past season (2018/2019); an increase of 18% compared to the previous campaign.
Morocco, in turn, exported 449,711 tons in the past season, which entails an increase of 53%. Both Almería and Morocco have a market share of 15% in Europe.
Trading companies in Almería are concerned, not only because of Morocco's growth, but also because of the constant reduction of the tomato acreage, which is gradually being replaced by other crops.
Nevertheless, Almería still holds a strong leadership position at national level. The province accounts for 61% of Spain's total tomato exports.
According to Coexphal, the 2018/2019 season was 'acceptable', in line with those of the past five years. Selling prices dropped by 2%, but were offset by the 5% larger harvest, so the income for the fruit and vegetable sector increased by slightly more than 3%.
Prices and the turnover generated by melons and watermelons have fallen by more than 30% this year, partly as a result of an increase in the production volume (+40% in the case of regular melons; +10% in the case of watermelons).
Meanwhile, pepper prices have remained stable and the harvest has increased by 6%, and eggplant prices have increased by 5%, while the harvest has remained practically the same. Also, the large growth of the zucchini harvest (+28%) is noteworthy, although the price for this product has dropped by 2%.
Lastly, cucumber prices have dropped by 1%, and the harvest volume has increased by 2%.
Rising costs have an impact on profit level
The Coexphal report states that prices for products from the province have remained fairly stable over the past twenty years. In the same period, however, costs have increased by around 70%.
Although volume and sales remain stable, the increasing cost of labor and rising energy and production costs have led to a significant loss of profit in Almeria's fruit and vegetable sector. According to data from the traders association, the profit margin has halved compared to the previous campaign.
The cultivation costs are considerably lower in Morocco. This applies in particular to labor costs, which amount to € 0.90 per kilo in Almería and barely € 0.01 in Morocco.
Improving productivity and efficiency
According to Coexphal, it is time to take new steps to improve the sector's productivity and efficiency. This should be done by applying new technologies, by using robots, by improving productivity per hectare and by focusing on obtaining the taste that consumers demand.