Spain is calling on the European Commission to provide extra help to growers as the crisis in the stonefruit market deepens.
Exporter federation FEPEX and some of the country’s biggest agricultural unions and cooperatives have sent a letter to the European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Developing calling for the withdrawal quota to be increased as they struggle to find an outlet for their fruit due to the Russian ban, now in its fourth year.
They claim the quota that Spain has been assigned, which amounts to 9,775 tonnes of peaches and nectarines, falls well short of the quantities traditionally exported to Russia before the ban and say a figure of 40,000 tonnes is more realistic.
In a letter sent to the commission, they said that in spite of the best efforts of the sector to diversify their export markets, they have been unable to offset the volume previously absorbed by Russia.
Under a package of measures introduced by the European Commission in the wake of the Russian ban, growers receive EU-funded support for withdrawals of excess fruit for free distribution to charity and schools as well as for use in animal feed, compost and processing.
Catalonia and Aragon are believed to be among the worst affected communities. Describing the current market situation as “alarming”, Manel Simon of Catalan fruit association Afrucat said unless swift action was taken the whole season would be a write-off.
Simon noted that since 1 July, stonefruit prices have been at unsustainable levels not seen since the E.Coli crisis that hit lettuce producers in 2011.