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Santiago Vázquez, manager of La Vega de Cieza, Spain

"This terrible stonefruit campaign will be a turning point for the sector"

The stonefruit campaign has developed so far with average prices 30 cents below the production costs, depending on the type of fruit and variety. The imbalance between supply and demand is such that, as FreshPlaza has learned, some cooperatives and producers are even throwing the fruit directly away in the field.

"This year's stonefruit campaign is an absolute ruin," states Santiago Vázquez, manager of the Murcia-based company La Vega de Cieza. "In the twenty years I've been working in this sector, I've never seen anything like this."

The climate conditions in late winter and early spring have been very good in most of Spain's stonefruit producing areas, especially in the early areas of Andalusia and Murcia, which have a high quality harvest without any losses. However, the weather in the export destinations has been adverse at the beginning of the campaign; too cold for the consumption of stonefruit.

"There was still a great consumption of citrus and winter products when we started our campaign, so stocks started to accumulate, both in fruit stores and wholesalers," explains the producer and exporter. In these circumstances, many of the European supermarket chains started reducing the purchase prices, arguing that other suppliers had offered them cheaper, regardless of whether the fruit continued to be sold for expensive prices on their shelves," explains Santiago Vázquez.

Large distributors have continued holding promotions, bringing prices down even more. "A price of 0.30 €/kg is not the reason for a customer to stop buying stonefruit at the point of sale, but it does mark the difference between a producer being able to continue working or directly ruining themselves. These are the lowest prices during the month of May observed in recent years," he points out.

According to the exporter, "this year will be a turning point for the stonefruit sector. If no aid is granted and the price dynamics continue in this same abusive trend, many small, medium and large growers in all producing areas of Spain and the rest of Europe will quit."

"If nothing is done, there will be radical changes that will prevent many small and medium-sized enterprises, the vast majority of which are family-based and create jobs in rural areas, from being viable, creating an unprecedented socioeconomic problem across Europe which may harm the entire social and economic structure."

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