As it usually does by the end of every year, Cajamar has presented an analysis of Almeria's fruit and vegetable campaign carried out by its Agro-food Studies Service. The event has been attended by more than 200 entrepreneurs, technicians and professionals in the sector. Since 2000, this report has become a key source of information and analysis for all agents involved in the province's agricultural sector.
As revealed by the document presented, Almeria's 2018-2019 fruit and vegetable campaign has been one of records in the acreage, production and exports, even though there has also been a drop in the profitability, mostly as a result of an average increase of 6.8% in the production costs.
According to the data collected in the report, lettuce and eggplant have stood out in terms of both prices and average turnover, while tomatoes and, above all, green beans, have suffered a downward trend. The latter, in fact, has almost disappeared from the greenhouses of Almeria. Also, despite the good prospects of the first part of the campaign, the final stretch of the season was marked by the watermelon price crisis caused by oversupply.
The province's greenhouse acreage has grown by 1.4% and amounts to over 32,000 hectares, while the total area devoted to intensive cultivation stands at over 58,600 hectares; a 5.4% growth driven by the recovery of open ground lettuce.
Meanwhile, the production amounts to 3.7 million tons, which is 6.4% more than in the 2018/2019 campaign and represents a new all-time record for the sector. Worthy of note is the progress achieved by lettuce, melons and watermelons.
When it comes to the average prices, eggplant, lettuce, zucchini, green beans, peppers and tomatoes all show a positive development; prices are down slightly in the case of melons and cucumbers, and watermelons have fallen sharply due to the combined effect of an expansion in the acreage and a reduction of the demand. In short, the added value of the intensive production amounts to 2,228 million Euro; 5.3% more.
Regarding foreign marketing, 2.7 million tons were exported in the 2018/2019 season (more than 80% of what was produced) for a total of 2.6 million Euro, which represents a new all-time record. In the foreign markets, the sector has sold 10.1% more in terms of volume and 11.7% more in terms of value.
In this regard, the most noteworthy cases are those of peppers and cucumbers, whose export volumes have increased by more than 7%. European countries continue to be the main destination for Almeria's shipments, with a remarkable 9% growth in the United Kingdom despite the uncertainty surrounding Brexit.
Auxiliary industry, guarantee of a future
The report says that, with each campaign, Almeria's horticulture is showing a huge capacity to create business and economic diversity around it. The auxiliary industry, intensive in technology and knowledge, closed last year with a 16.1% growth in terms of employment and a 9.9% one in terms of turnover. The cluster as a whole generates 6,244 jobs and sells products worth 1,367 million Euro, 35% of which comes from foreign markets.
Many of the great challenges that the Almeria model must face in the short term, such as efficiency, increased productivity and the reuse of waste, depend on the development of the so-called 'smart agriculture'.