A sharp rise in temperatures during the past weeks has accelerated the start of the Spanish stonefruit season and flooding the European market according to agricultural union AVA-ASAJA.
It has warned that the disreputable behaviour of European retailers is compounding the situation and putting the profitability of the entire season under threat.
The unusually hot weather has forced many producers to harvest their fruit early in order to preserve its condition in coldstores. At the same time, demand in northern European markets such as Germany has been weak due to the low temperatures.
“These factors have resulted in market paralysis, and even though demand is rising slowly, stocks are very high and existing supply exceeds demand,” the union said.
It accused European retailers of taking advantage of this situation by forcing prices down. Data from the agriculture ministry shows that prices are around 30 per cent lower than at this time last year.
The high stock levels are also delaying harvesting of the fruit that is still in the fields.
Cristóbal Aguado, president of AVA-ASAJA, described the situation as “critical” and said it was being compounded by the retailers who he accuses of refusing to honour purchasing agreements and instead “negotiating prices on a daily basis with no planning whatsoever”.
“This is a clear example of exploitation by the supermarkets in order to boost their profits, as yet again they fail to pass the price decreases on to the consumer,” Aguado said.