The greenhouses of Almería account for just 3% of the total acreage of this Andalusian province; however, these have the capacity to supply fresh fruit and vegetables for salads to countries and markets in more than half of Europe, mainly Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and Scandinavia.
Productivity is not the only factor that helps Almeria's greenhouses stand out. According to a report by CUTE, a consortium made up of European fruit and vegetable associations from France, Greece, Poland and Spain, including Coexphal, “the greenhouses in southern Europe are a sustainable option, since they use renewable and natural energy sources, such as the sun, they save water, reduce the use of phytosanitary products and absorb CO₂. In fact, they consume up to 30 times less energy than other production systems.”
The report also highlights that, in addition to obtaining great yields from such a small acreage, the province has one of the highest percentages of protected natural areas, which account for more than 50% of the total area. This is unmatched in any other European region.
The CUTE document also says that “in the face of the situation caused by the coronavirus, consumers need to be more informed than ever about the production models of the European Union and about the high standards of these productions in terms of quality, traceability, food safety and environmental sustainability.” The Association of Organizations of Fruit and Vegetable Producers of Andalusia (represented in Almería by Coexphal) has been working on this as part of an international consortium coordinated by FruitVegetables Europe (Eucofel).
The greenhouses of Almería and Granada produce 4.5 million tons of vegetables (mainly tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, eggplant, zucchini, melons and watermelons) and supply more than 47% of the domestic market and 50% of the European markets, reaching over 60% during the winter months, when continental production is not viable due to low temperatures. "Since the pandemic was declared, the sector has shown its capacity to guarantee the supply of fresh food within the EU," says the report.