The Spanish watermelon campaign has been characterized by severe supply problems since the harvest began in Almeria and during the first weeks of harvesting in the fields of Murcia, although next week volumes will begin to recover and the prospect is that, by mid-July, they will be more in line with those of a normal campaign.
"This spring, when we had about 20% of the watermelon area already planted in Murcia, we had a period of heavy rains that lasted for several weeks. This affected the normal cycle of the plants and prevented the planting stage from continuing," says Jesus Abenza, managing director of the cooperative Alimer. "The planting continued quite late, and that is the reason why there have hardly been any volumes so far, even though we should have already been working with large quantities for about two or three weeks," he says.
In fact, growers and marketers will go from having a very limited supply of watermelon to having more consistent volumes in the next week. "We are going to start recovering next week and, fortunately, a very good quality product will start arriving, as since the rains stopped, the weather has been ideal for watermelon growth, i.e., hot and dry. In about 10 days we will go from a relatively empty market to productions that should amount to around 80% of the usual volumes in a normal campaign," says the manager of Alimer.
The significant drop in the supply, the high production costs and the high demand have led to selling prices reaching very high levels since the start of the season. According to Jesus Abenza, "watermelons are a product for mass consumption, and so far prices have been too high compared to the usual levels. Soon the supply will become a little more normal and we hope that consumer prices will then be more affordable, but at the same time, acceptable for the producers, as well as for the other links in the chain. We are confident that the good weather will continue to drive the demand."
"Fruit and vegetable consumption has grown in recent years, and we have to be aware that, if we want it to continue to rise, consumer prices must be reasonable. Unfortunately, there have been some sharp ups and downs in the market for these staple products and this is not good for consumption. Just as it is not good when prices fall too much, it is also not good for prices to rise too much, or for there to be interruptions in the supply. But the weather seems to be becoming increasingly unstable and this, in addition to the skyrocketing costs, seems to be one of the biggest threats to the sector when it comes to planning the campaigns," says Jesús Abenza.