A little over two years after suffering one of its worst ever crises, the fresh produce sector in the Spanish province of Almería – the center of Spanish vegetable production – has achieved a major increase in exports during the first four months of the year.
Despite seeing sales collapse in May 2011 after salad growers in the Andalusian region were wrongly linked to a German E.coli outbreak, the sector quickly recovered and has continued to experience strong year-on-year growth.
According to figures from Spanish export organization Icex, fresh produce companies from Almería exported 883,300 tons (MT) of fresh fruits and vegetables between January and April, an increase of 3.5% compared with the same period of 2012.
The value of these exports – of which almost 85% were vegetables – also increased by 4.9% compared with the same four months a year before, reaching €925.4 million (US$1.2 billion).
Responsible for an estimated 44% of Spain’s total fresh vegetable exports, Almería accounted for a substantial proportion of an overall 6% increase in Spanish fruit and vegetables between January and April. Total exports rose to more than 4.4 million MT.
During the period, the total value of Spanish fresh produce exports also rose by 8% compared with the year before to €4.089 million (US$5.3 million), according to figures from Spanish customs processed by national producer association Fepex.
Exports of both fruits and vegetables increased by 6% each during the four-month period to 2.3 million MT and 2.1 million MT respectively. Citrus, tomatoes, lettuce, peppers and cucumbers were among the most important export products.
The only negative development came with strawberries, which although normally Spain’s second-largest fruit export after citrus, dropped by 15% in volume terms and 19% in value terms year-on-year. The drop follows a poor season in the country’s soft fruit production hub, Huelva.