EU stonefruit market suffering from "collapse", says Spanish grower group
A Spanish grower association has warned that a "collapse" of the European stonefruit market is posing a serious threat to the campaign, and has urged authorities to act.
Valencian Farmers Association (AVA-ASAJA) said it had carried out analysis on the situation and believed the outlook was bleak for growers from the major production region.
"The accumulation of a whole series of adverse circumstances has ended up causing a real collapse of the stonefruit market, seriously threatening the profitability of the campaign," it said in a release.
"The prospects began to darken from the outset, when a sudden and unusual rise in temperatures in late April and early May forced many plum, peach, nectarine and apricot producers to advance harvesting so as to preserve the condition of the fruit through storage in cold rooms."
It said the situation had resulted in a "paralysis" of the markets with the campaign at its peak, as stocks in key growing areas like Valencia, Andalusia, Murcia, Aragon and Extremadura far exceeded demand.
Prices are down around 30% year-on-year as a result, it added, citing figures from the Ministry of Agriculture.
Meanwhile, the entity explained fruit harvesting was delayed amid complaints from growers that some businesses were violating purchase agreements. Some producers are therefore refusing to harvest their crops.
"At the moment there is nervousness in the face of the collapse of the markets, which, if they do not decongest quickly, will seriously compromise the normal development of the fruit campaign, and therefore also the income of thousands of farmers.
The association's president Cristóbal Aguado described the situation as "critical".
"The Government and the European Union have to consider putting a withdrawal mechanism in place as soon as possible to help alleviate the markets, and, following that, they have to adopt measures like approving income insurance or a food chain law at the [European] community level that serves to correct this kind of imbalance condemning farmers' activity to the death."