Internal competition is driving down the price of Spanish tomatoes and undermining the industry’s position in the European market, according agricultural unions.
Responding to a new study by the European Commission showing that the price of Spanish-grown tomatoes lags behind that of other EU producing countries, Andrés Góngora of Coag-Almería urged growers to rethink their commercial strategy and establish more producer organisations to strengthen their bargaining position.
Góngora noted that: “instead of negotiating a sales price as they do in other parts of Europe, unfortunately in Almería we wait for people to come to us and buy our tomatoes”.
The study, which is based on information provided by Eurostat and other community bodies including the Directorate-General for Agriculture, reveals that during March, when the season is in full swing, the average price of Spanish-grown tomatoes was €0.85 per kg compared with the EU average of €1.24 per kg.
French tomatoes sold for more than €2.3 per kg, while the prices for Italian and Dutch tomatoes were €1.5 and €1.48 per kg respectively.
The study shows that prices reached record levels in March 2017 compared with the same period in the previous five years, rising by more than 100 per cent in all cases. However, Spanish tomatoes showed the lowest growth (112 per cent), while Italian ones showed the highest level at 165 per cent.
Average European prices have been higher throughout the first three months of 2017 than in the year-earlier period, with the biggest difference seen in January (€1.40 per kg versus €0.80 per kg in 2016).
Even in January, when Almería is the main source of tomatoes in Europe, the price of Spanish tomatoes was well below the EU-average at €1.20 per kg. This shows, said Góngora, that Spain needed to be smarter in the way it sells its tomatoes.