On December 4, following a report from the Coordinator of Organizations of Agricultural Producers and Livestock Farmers (COAG) denouncing lack of control at the border inspection post of the port of Motril, a hundred fruit and vegetable producers blocked one of the port's main routes of entry and exit of goods as protest against the uncontrolled entry of imports from third countries.
“The lack of action of Spanish and European policy makers is destroying the social economy of our entire Mediterranean arch. The pressure and unfair competition has been such that, in the case of tomatoes, the Canary Islands, Alicante or Murcia have already lost their productions, and those of Almeria, Granada and Malaga are now in serious jeopardy,” said Andrés Góngora, head of the fruit and vegetables sector at COAG, during the protest.
The data analyzed by COAG reveal a dramatic growth of imports from third countries to the EU thanks to the liberalization of trade in agricultural products.
An example of this is the increase in fruit and vegetable imports from Morocco to the EU, which have gone from 895,727 tons in 2009 to 1.3 million tons in 2018; 52% more. In the case of Egypt, they have grown by 40% since 2009, from 516,924 to 723,694 tons in 2018. In the significant case of tomatoes, there has been a 27% increase of imports from Morocco to the EU. Since 2010, a record figure has been achieved every year (except in 2015), reaching 450,000 tons in 2018. Turkey is the second largest importer and its shipments are now more than 3.5 times greater than in 2013 (reaching 108,000 tons). Meanwhile, EU tomato exports have fallen to the lowest value of the decade (down by 68% since 2013).
The volume shipped from Morocco to Spain has gone from 151,059 tons in 2009 to 399,519 tons in 2018; up 164%. Worthy of note is the increase of peppers, with a 210% growth between 2010 and 2018 (reaching 52,800 tons). That of tomatoes is up by 200% (reaching 63,300 tons), and that of green beans by 38% (reaching 87,500 tons). Meanwhile, Egypt's exports have increased from 1,189 tons to 21,129 tons (1,667% more). Some companies also reportedly re-label the imported products.
On December 13, new protests will be held against the main distribution chains in the face of the serious price crisis affecting the fruit and vegetable sector.