Spanish fruit and vegetable sector.

Fruit and Vegetable exports stagnate while imported produce grow by 20%

According to recent figures fruit and vegetable imports in Spain have grown by more than 20% while exports of Spanish produce have hardly risen at all. In fact, this year so far and 2007 have seen a drop in exports, a situation which threatens the future of this sector if new markets are not found. In addition, Spanish fruit and vegetable producers could face further set backs if new, stricter EU laws on the use of pesticides are introduced .

The production of fruit and vegetables is one of the pillars of the Spanish agricultural sector estimated to be worth around 15,000 million euros. It also accounts for 37% of agricultural produce and generates around 400,000 jobs a year. Exports generated 7,700 million euros last year alone.

For many years the production of fruit and vegetables was considered to be the jewel in the crown in the Spanish agricultural sector due to its capacity for competitive exports, the profits generated and the quality of produce.

However, according to the Director of the Federation of Fruit and Vegetable Producers and Exporters (Fepex) all this could be lost if measures are not taken to improve competitiveness .

For Fepex, Spanish producers have lost their capacity to compete against producers from northern EU states which grow produce in greenhouses and are subsidised for using clean energy and which have the advantage of being located near their main export markets. Spanish producers have also lost their competitive edge against cheaper imports from other countries.

According to statistics for 2007, 9.58 million tonnes of Spanish fruit and vegetables were exported, a drop of 1.15% compared to 2006. However, they sold for 7,687 million euros which is 4% more than the previous year.

On the other hand, during the same period imports grew to 2.

56 million tonnes estimated to be worth 1.486 million euros, which is a growth of almost 24%.
EU member states account for 93.48% of the Spanish fruit and vegetable export market with the UK, France and Germany as the main buyers together with the emerging Polish market. However, these countries also receive cheaper exports from other countries and from northern European producers such as Holland.