Over the last four weeks, the supply of Spanish watermelon has been severely limited due to the impact of the abundant rainfall and heat waves recorded in May and June in the producing areas of the Levante and the southwest of the Peninsula. This has resulted in a supply shortage in Europe and tension in the watermelon market; a situation which is expected to start improving after next week.
"In the areas from northern Almeria to Tarragona, heavy rainfall, hail storms and a high number of cloudy days in May and June took a severe toll on the quantity and quality of the watermelons available for marketing. The north of Almeria and the Region of Murcia, Spain's main producing areas, are the most affected," said Carlos Nemesio, head of watermelon sales at Anecoop, the largest operator of this product in Spain.
It is a rather difficult situation that has taken a toll on the entire sector. "The truth is that we only foresaw the drastic drop in watermelon volumes 15 days in advance. We knew that there would be a significant drop, but we did not expect up to 100% losses in some cases. It is certainly difficult to predict the combination of conditions that will lead to a shortage," said Carlos. "We definitely need better tools to forecast the consequences of adverse weather in a more accurate and timely manner.
Outside the Levante area, the rains in June, which were followed by strong heat waves, caused the campaign in Seville and Cordoba to finish almost three weeks early. "Anecoop has invested heavily in these producing areas of southern Spain, where we expected to harvest until July 15; however, on June 23 we were already finished, since we had run out of production."
In June, the demand tends to grow significantly due to the start of summer, and at that time there is still hardly any production from any country in the Mediterranean, where Spain is the main supplier. "Spain's watermelon production has been severely limited, and Greece, Italy, Turkey or even France had not yet started strongly, so some operators have even placed orders in Brazil. Watermelon prices have reached up to 1.50 € per kilo in Spain and between 2 and 3 Euro in other central European countries."
According to Carlos Nemesio, this is a situation that nobody in the value chain can benefit from, since producers can't make a profit with such low yields, even if prices are high, and consumers have to pay sky-high prices, sometimes for fruit that does not meet their expectations, which does not encourage consumption. Besides, "operators will face more competition in the future, since many European chains have sought alternatives in other countries."
Anecoop's watermelon and kaki sales manager expects the situation to start improving as of next week. After a hotter than usual month of June, "we are confident that there will start to be more supply next week and quality will improve. Valencia's production is currently at its peak, and Murcia still has three good weeks left. Also, Castile-La Mancha will start harvesting its first watermelons next week, and the region expects a normal production. August will be different, and although we won't reach our 150,000 ton target, we will continue to supply watermelons without interruptions until the end of September," said Carlos Nemesio.
For more information: anecoop.com