Miguel Ángel Gómez, general director of Afruex:

"Due to the low supply of stone fruit and cherries, prices cover the production costs and the lack of third-party markets is not being felt"

While relatively significant volumes of nectarines were already available in Extremadura last week, this week there are already more consistent quantities, and peach volumes are growing. As for plums, the most representative product in terms of volume in Extremadura, the prospect is to reach a remarkable production from mid-June with the harvest of varieties such as the Black Splendor and Crimson.

"The nectarine and peach productions are at a similar level to those of last season, even slightly higher. It should be recalled that growers in Extremadura are constantly renewing their varieties, and they are currently betting more on nectarines and Paraguayo peaches," says Miguel Angel Gomez, managing director of Afruex, the Association of Fruit Growers of Extremadura.

The decline in the production in other producing areas in Spain is resulting in smoother sales and high prices that cover the rise in production costs; a result of inflation. "However, if the European production reaches its full potential next year and these costs are maintained, the business may then become unsustainable," warns Miguel Angel Gomez.

The cherry campaign started more than a month ago in the Jerte Valley and, for the time being, there are reports of good sales and very acceptable prices, with a production 20% lower than last year's season. Other Spanish producing areas have suffered greater declines in the production due to the frosts, mainly in Catalonia and Aragon.

"Both in the case of cherries and stone fruit, it remains to be seen the extent to which France and Italy having their usual volumes will have an impact," says Miguel Angel Gomez. "We are concerned about the logistical difficulties in exporting outside the EU, both because of the availability of resources and the high cost. It is proving to be a real challenge to reach third markets such as Brazil, Canada, South Africa and Asian countries. Land transport to Eastern European countries is also very difficult due to its cost. In a year like this one, in which we have smaller volumes of fruit in Spain, it seems that these will be absorbed by the EU markets. However, we could have serious problems next year if this global situation in the logistics persists and we have the usual production."

As already discussed at the latest Spanish-French-Italian-Portuguese Fruit and Vegetable Joint Committee, recently held in Lisbon, the managing director of Afruex also mentioned "the need for reciprocity in the rules for the use of plant protection products to combat pests in crops, so that European producers can compete in EU markets under the same conditions as those of third countries such as Morocco, Turkey, Egypt or Algeria, where products are used that are prohibited to us and where production continues to grow."

"In a few years we will find ourselves with competitors with better yields and much lower production costs and the possibility to travel further thanks to the permissiveness of the European Commission. We should all play by the same rules. The EU cannot leave the food supply in the hands of third countries. We are already seeing the consequences of doing that with energy," says Miguel Ángel Gómez.

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