A Spanish farming association in Valencia says that the summer fruit season has got off to a terrible start, with stonefruit growers facing very low demand by major retail chains in the European market.
AVA-ASAJA said that many peach, apricot and nectarine growers in the major fruit-growing region are being affected by the situation.
The low demand is resulting in a "real collapse" of the start of the campaign and causing great concern to growers, many of whom are unable to find buyers for their fruit.
According to AVA-ASAJA, growers are either being offered abysmal prices that wouldn't even allow them to meet the production costs, or the potential buyers are offering to put their fruit into storage and pay them whenever it enters the market - a practice that the organization said almost always results in poor returns.
Prospects "could not be worse"
"The situation is severe and right now the prospects for the summer fruit campaign could not be worse," said AVA-ASAJA president Cristóbal Aguado.
"It is right now, at the start of the season, when prices should be at their highest, and we have started off without prices, or with ridiculously low prices, and this year the fruit is of excellent quality due to a good number of cold hours."
"But the most worrying thing of all is the paralysis of the markets, as we know from experience that if a campaign starts off badly then it is very hard for prices to recover."
AVA-ASAJA urged local and national administrations in Spain to provide support to growers in order to avoid an "irreversible disaster". Aguado said large volumes of fruit must be removed from the market place urgently.
"What is clear is that we must act and act now. When the problems started in the recent citrus campaign, we requested that the fruit withdrawal mechanism be activated, but they did not listen and we all know the catastrophe that came afterward. Let's try to not make the same mistake."