Central and northern Europe have experienced a cold summer, with lower temperatures than usual and abundant rainfall. This has had an effect on consumer demand, thus impacting the Spanish agricultural sector, as this region of the continent is its main market.
The cold weather has led to a decrease in the consumption of seasonal fruits, such as melon and watermelon, whose consumption is very sensitive to temperature. This summer, there were many moments in which the maximum temperature was below 20 degrees Celsius in many parts of Europe. This was a disaster for the farmers who grow these fruits. In fact, in some cases, they even had to sell their products below production costs.
People, however, continue to eat and the demand this summer has moved to other products. "When the weather isn't hot, Europeans prefer a salad or grilled broccoli instead of watermelon," stated Antonio Moreno, from the agricultural association UPA.
Thus, the demand for lettuce, broccoli, and cauliflower has unexpectedly skyrocketed. That resulted in a significant increase in the prices of these vegetables at origin, which were much higher than in recent years. Lettuce prices, for example, have not dropped below 42 cents per 100 units - i.e. twice as much as in the same period of time last year- something that has particularly benefited producers in Murcia, the epicenter of Spain's lettuce production.
According to producers, prices also increased because the torrential rains, storms, and hail in Switzerland, France, Germany, and Northern Europe have caused significant damage to their local productions. Whole vegetable crops have been lost. In general, these are small productions, especially when compared to the Spanish orchards. However, losing them has prevented these countries from being self-sufficient.