Last winter, the leafy vegetable production suffered from the impact of climate change, "which is increasingly noticeable in our sector," said Géraldine Cuadras, commercial director of Cuadraspania.
"In November and December, the temperature was very high and caused the harvests to start earlier, which led to overproduction and lower prices. But from January 14 onwards, the weather suddenly became cold. Here in our area, we have had the coldest winter of the last 5 years, and after the early harvests, we found ourselves with a gap in the production. Prices started to recover in that second part of the winter, but yields were very low," said Geraldine.
In Cuadraspania's case, this situation didn't affect only leafy vegetables, especially endive, but also other products in which they are specialists, like violet artichoke, whose production fell by 30% due to the cold.
"Last season, prices were generally good when the cold arrived, but this can no longer be used as a reference to say whether a season has been good or not. In agriculture, there is an invisible cost, which is the reduction of yields. This, together with the rise of other costs, will significantly reduce the sector's profitability."
"We are facing the upcoming season with a lot of uncertainty due to climate change. We need adapted varieties and must also expand the geographical production areas in order to spread the risk. Besides, to ensure no sales are lost, we have to plant some extra to make up for possible losses (flooding, hail, extreme temperatures). At Cuadraspania we have already invested in anti-hail blankets with which we can cover the crops, and we are evaluating other options," she says.
Fortunately, the latest heavy rains have not affected the productions of this Almeria-based company, "because we had already moved from the coastal area to the mountain area, but for some watermelon and melon producers it has been a catastrophe," says Geraldine.
"Endive could continue to grow in the horeca sector in Europe"
The Frisee Fine is Cuadraspania's flagship product. In Europe, the firm is a specialist in this endive variety, which is highly appreciated for its flavor and texture.
"We offer it all year round at a stable price, and we believe it can continue to grow in the horeca sector in Europe. We are also promoting it in specialized fruit and vegetable stores, where it is achieving great success. Endive volumes in general have been decreasing in the last 20 years, but we, as specialists, have grown stronger. It has perhaps been replaced by other products, as the tastes of the new generations have been changing. Endive is not a
sort of lettuce, and we are working to ensure that its nutritional and digestive qualities are recognized. The product is recommended by nutritionists because of its healthy properties, and we are committed to promoting its consumption. Nowadays, people want to eat healthy, and endive is a product that benefits from this trend," says Geraldine.
"Violet artichoke is another product that has also been declining in recent years. It is not easy to cook and needs time to prepare. For these reasons, we have developed a new product: fresh violet artichoke hearts. These are already peeled, which facilitates their preparation and consumption. As with endive, we are specialists in this product and have consolidated our position in the market and have even grown in recent years," she concludes.