Cold snap hits Spanish fruit and vegetable production
The severe cold snap in Spain has hit fruit and vegetable production in some of the country's key growing regions, according to exporter association Fepex.
The Filomena storm has brought record low temperatures and the first snowfall in decades to Madrid and other parts of the country, causing widespread disruption.
According to Fepex, the cold weather in the southeastern regions of Almeria and Granada will reduce yields of numerous crops including tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, eggplant and bell peppers.
January is one of Spain's biggest fruit and vegetable export months with over 1.3 million metric tons (MT) shipped abroad.
According to Almeria produce association Coexphal, the intense cold has stunted the growth of plants and their fruits paralyzed, threatening to cause damage that could be irreparable at this stage of the season.
Damage from cold weather has been experienced since the end of last year and is becoming more acute in January. The damage is also manifested in various ways, depending on the microclimate of the different production areas.
In the points of the province of Almeria farthest from the coast, such as Campohermoso and Berja, there have been nights with frosts, reaching -4ºC (24ºF) at the end of December. There have been frost losses on many farms, affecting up to 20% of the plants.
The drop in production has led to an increase in prices, although there is concern that there is no capacity to supply all the demand, not even to meet most of the commercial agreements that the marketing companies had already closed.
In January 2019 sales exports totaled 1.36 million MT with a value of €1.4 million euros, while in January 2020, sales stood at 1.35 million MT with a value of €1.5 million euros, according to data from the Department of Customs and Excise processed by FEPEX.
The most exported vegetables in the first month of the year are, according to data from January 2020, bell peppers with €172.5 million, tomatoes with €143.4 million, cucumber with €130.2 million and lettuce with €104 million.
In fruits, citrus fruits represent the bulk of exports in January, with volumes exceeding 200,000 MT in the case of oranges and tangerines. Far from these volumes, there has also been a gradual growth in fruit exports in recent years, such as persimmon and strawberries.