It has been a cold summer in Central Europe this year. The rains and the low summer temperatures have had a great influence on the consumption of fruits and vegetables. This has negatively affected the demand for watermelons and melons while increasing the demand for lettuce and other vegetables, such as broccoli or cauliflower. As a result, the price of these vegetables in Spain has increased much more than in recent years.
The head of fruit for the agricultural association UPA, Antonio Moreno, described the development of the watermelon campaign -since the beginning of July, when Almeria started to take out the fruit grown in the open air, until the present day- as a disaster. The harvest in the Region of Murcia is ending and there were times when producers were paid only five or six cents a kilo, which is below production costs, he stated, adding that it was still too early to make the final balance of the campaign in Castilla-La Mancha, which is in full swing.
The price of lettuce in the fields peaked this summer and has not dropped below 42 cents/100 units in August, i.e. twice as high as a year ago, according to the national average prices of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Food (MAPA).
The general director of the Association of Producers-Exporters of Fruits and Vegetables of the Region of Murcia (Proexport), Fernando Gomez, confirmed to Efeagro that producers have encountered an unexpected demand for lettuce and other vegetables these weeks. It should be noted that nearly 16,000 hectares of the more than 35,000 hectares devoted to producing lettuce in Spain are located in the Region of Murcia.
According to Gomez, the increase in demand is due to the atypical spring and beginning of summer in central Europe, which led to the loss of vegetable crops that, despite being smaller than the Spanish products, led to a strong increase in national orders for lettuce, cauliflower, and broccoli.
Sources from the commercial department of the Anecoop cooperative, for their part, have specified that this is a very punctual increase. "We do not know how long it will last," they stressed.
Elena Segura, the commercial director of the Murcian firm Myrtea Export, said that the strong storms, torrential rains, and hailstorms that have hit Switzerland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and northern Europe this summer caused damage to local agriculture.
"In the summer months, Europe normally supplies itself with products such as lettuce, but there is a shortage of supply this year because of the weather conditions and this has increased prices considerably."