In the Spanish fruit sector, there has been an increase of both exports (by 20% between 2014 and 2018) and the value of the production (up by 38% between 2013 and 2018, reaching more than 10.3 billion Euro). "It is the most relevant sector of all Spanish agriculture, but the lack of profitability does not ensure the generational change and is leading to further abandonment of the sector and to the depopulation of the rural environment," says David Borda, head of the Sweet Fruit Sector at COAG.
“Now, our fruit is a gift inside plastic packaging or a container. The consumer does not pay the costs of producing the fruit, but the costs and margins of all links in the chain, except those of the producers. We have built a value chain in which the final price includes the cost of packaging, plastic, transport or handling, but which doesn't take the value of the fruit into account,” laments Borda.
“In this 2019 campaign, the prices we perceive are the second worst average prices for producers since 2013, only behind those of 2017. Meanwhile, the origin-destination margin has stood at 538% for peaches, clearly above the average of the last 5 campaigns (413%). We charge less, but the chain absorbs more value.”
"It is clear that we must produce quality fruit (flavor, size, firmness...), but those who buy at origin do not pay for that, so there is less and less quality. Growers are increasingly under pressure and the only solution is to produce more kilos with lower costs. Harvesting costs are cut and there are quality losses, because the ripening point does not matter. And this battle is lost against the productions of third countries.”
Borda only sees one solution for the sector. “We must enhance the value of the fruit itself, so that the consumer can appreciate it when it reaches them. To this end, profound changes are needed, and the first thing to decide is whether we want an agriculture with agricultural producers or an agriculture with large companies and employees in the field. It is necessary to implement legal measures that allow us to charge for the value we generate. There are many options but, for example, the chain law should go further and defend the prices of the weakest link, because the marketers at origin seem unable to respect our production costs. More organization at origin is required.”