This autumn’s high temperatures caused delays in the European harvests and an advance in Spain’s production; a situation which led to oversupply and low prices that have continued until today. Additionally, distribution strategies and constant discounts have contributed to pushing prices down even further.
On top of all this, it should be noted that demand has been very volatile. Most consumers look for the cheapest prices, and this makes it hard for producers to adjust stable programs with their European clients.
“The season has been tough so far; we had high temperatures, oversupply, and now, despite having a quality product, prices are low,” explains Robin Mann, salad production director of the firm G’s España, based in Murcia, whose mother company is in southern England. “Additionally, the lettuce acreage has grown and consumption has remained stable.”
Antonio García, field technician at Agrupapulpí, describes a similar situation: “This year we lacked the necessary cold temperatures.” The winter, after all, has always regulated the market.
Some operators have also detected a drop in demand. “Consumption levels are lower, prices have fallen and some weeks prices have been 30% cheaper than last year,” saus Javier Soto, director of Agrar Systems.
Murcia’s lettuce is shipped to 42 countries, including some in the Middle East, although 97% of the orders correspond to the EU. Its main destinations are Germany (28%), the UK (20%), France (15%) and the Netherlands (13%); while Almeria’s lettuce is shipped mostly to Italy (20%), the UK (19%), Germany (17%) and the Netherlands (11%).