Agricultural unions in Extremadura are calling for urgent action from the government to handle the growing crisis in the cherry market.
A delay to harvesting caused by heavy rainfall during the spring has led to a glut of fruit on the market. Growers say the unfair pricing tactics employed by the supermarkets is making a bad situation worse.
UPA-UCE Extremadura said in a press release that the producers in the Valle del Jerte faced a complicated season, even though the quality of this year’s crop is very good.
It pointed out that there had been a significant fall in production this season, not just in Extremadura, but across Europe, therefore “logically, you would expect prices to go up”.
Asaja Extremadura is demanding the withdrawal of a large of the cherry crop in order to regulate the market and avoid a ruinous season for the region’s growers.
Hundreds of producers took to the streets earlier this month to protest against the price falls and urge the government to adopt a minimum price to protect growers and end the abusive practices.
“We ask that a minimum price be established to help producers, but also for the consumer because [the supermarkets] are selling cherries for the price of rib-eye,” said Raúl Heras, spokesman for the Valle del Jerte Unido platform.
Producers accuse the supermarkets of charging up to 18 times more to the consumer than the price being paid to growers.
The president of Asaja Extremadura, Ángel García Blanco, said the withdrawal of “a large part” of cherry production from Valle del Jerte was needed in order to prevent a ruinous campaign.
“The sector is sinking, but also consumers due to the exorbitant prices they are paying for cherries of Extremaduran origin,” he said.
Cherries are the main source of income for many families in the Valle del Jerte and the sector is also an important tourist attraction in the area.