The lockdown and restriction of movement decreed in Spain by the central government triggered the hoarding of basic products among Spanish consumers. The demand for fresh food has resulted in a price bubble for vegetables, as pointed out by the agricultural organization COAG, which estimates that the compulsive purchases by Spaniards has led to a 30% increase in the consumption of vegetables in Spain.
Eduardo López, COAG's organizing secretary in Andalusia, illustrates this with the situation of aubergines. "At given points, growers have been paid 10 cents for a kilo for their aubergines, and now their value has increased by 90%."
The March price index for foodstuffs at origin and destination (IPOD) has yet to be reported, but the websites of some supermarket chains and online stores show that the value of a kilo of aubergines has shot up in the retail, ranging from 2.44 Euro to 3.31 Euro.
Other products with significantly higher prices are bell peppers, whose value has risen to 4.95 Euro per kilo; zucchini, which in some stores are sold for 0.89 Euro per unit; artichokes, which range from 2.58 to 2.79 Euro per kilo, and tomatoes, which can reach 2.86 Euro.
COAG predicts that this bubble will eventually lead to a collapse of prices, which will happen as soon as the general hysteria is diluted. "When everyone has their fridges full, there will surely be a drop in prices at origin," says Eduardo López, concerned about the consequences for agricultural producers.
Fruit escapes the price rise
The phenomenon of the rise of vegetable prices has not applied to fruit. "We don't have any reports about price rises in citrus, strawberries, apples, bananas, pears or avocados," says the technical head of agricultural economics at COAG in Madrid, Álvaro Areta.
The pandemic was declared with the stone fruit season just around the corner in Andalusia, Extremadura and Murcia, where the harvesting will start in April. The agricultural sector will be watching closely to ensure that no price fluctuations are recorded.
COAG recalled that, with the current state of alarm, the central government has the power to intervene if it detects an indiscriminate and unjustified rise in the price of any essential product.