In April, the Region of Murcia has taken over from Almeria in the national production of peppers in Spain. However, the delay caused by the weather at the start of the Murcian harvest has coincided with a considerable reduction in the volumes harvested in Almeria's long-cycle plantations, putting pressure on prices.
"We've had atypical prices for a few weeks," says Angel Izquierdo, manager of the Murcian company Soltir. "In Murcia, the campaign has been delayed by between 20 days and a month because of the weather. At the same time, the campaign in Almeria has finished early, generating a gap in the supply which we are still suffering right now," he says.
Angel says that the end of the production in Almeria has always connected well with the start of the season in Murcia, except for this year, when the weather has prevented a proper overlap. "Here in Murcia we should have 30% more peppers than we do at the moment. But we have had a very difficult year when it comes to temperatures, with unstable weather that has caused the peppers not to ripen at the expected rate," explains the manager. "However, the situation will normalize as the days go by."
In fact, according to Angel's estimates, normal volumes are expected to be reached in the Region in about two weeks. They have only been working with colored peppers for a couple of weeks, "although not in the volumes we would like," he says.
Large sizes abound; there is little to pack in flowpacks
The weather recorded over the last month has had an impact on the regional harvest in the first weeks of spring, as well as on prices, which currently range between 1.50 and 2 €/kg. However, this has not affected the quality of the vegetables. "In terms of quality or sizes, we are not having any major problems," says Angel, explaining that the fruit setting issues caused by bad weather have facilitated the increase in the size of the fruits that were already on the plants.
Ángel Izquierdo, manager of Soltir
"This has caused there to be a lot of product for bulk packaging, and little for flowpack packaging. The trend in supermarkets is to sell peppers packed in 500 gram flowpacks, and we are occasionally finding it difficult to get the medium sizes required for that format."
Expansion of bell pepper acreage
This year, Soltir has chosen to expand the area cultivated with bell peppers, which account for 60% of the 400 hectares devoted to the crop. The remaining 40% corresponds to the Lamuyo variety. The company, recognized as a Fruit and Vegetable Producers Organization since 2003, is immersed in its marketing campaign.
"Most of the sales are still carried out at auctions, although we also export some volumes to customers with whom we have commitments from previous years," says the manager.
"In Europe there is currently a very good demand for peppers," says Angel. "It is true that there was some panic last week, but I think that right now everyone is aware that there is enough production and that the supply is going to be guaranteed."