The National Board for Garlic believes this is mainly due to drought
After sowing the early garlic variety Spring, and in the absence of the purple variety that is just starting, a slight decrease in the overall area of production for this crop has been confirmed. This is one of the main conclusions reached at the meeting held by the Assembly of the National Board for Garlic, last Thursday, 9th of November in Las Pedroñeras (Cuenca).
The decrease is clearly being a consequence of drought, which is affecting the entire area under garlic cultivation, especially the two main producing communities, Castilla-La Mancha and Andalucía, where significant reductions in irrigation water supplies are expected due to the lack of rainfall and the critical state of reservoirs and aquifers.
Representatives for garlic from Andalucía, Madrid, Castilla and León, Extremadura and Castilla-La Mancha who attended the meeting, also analysed the amount of stored garlic available and the situation being registered in both, the domestic and foreign market.
The start of the current season has been classified by the president of the National Board for Garlic, Julio Bacete, as one of “startles, meteorological severities and a strong downward pressure on trade,” which after the good cycle during two consecutive seasons experienced by growers of the sector, this has undoubtedly ended, and they have consequently succumbed, without any objective reasons, to the downward pressure placed on market prices. Already since the spring months, with very low stocks and a tight market supply, different areas of interest began a psychological war by warning of the harvest increase and lower prices in China, with the global impact that this would have.
This has led many new farmers, who in the heat of the recorded boom last season opted for garlic cultivation despite not having the adequate storage infrastructures, to lose their nerve and sell the crop at any price without there being a real reason to do so; this has no solution now and the damage is irreparable.
Fortunately for the sector, the irregular start to the season has been gradually corrected over the months that have followed. Currently, the initial warehouse handling prices for garlic are not the same as last season during the same period, since these show a reduction of between 15-20%, but their current levels are acceptable with the Spring varieties standing at around 1,800 euros/Tm and the purple variety at 2,500 euros/Tm.
With over 3,000 million tonnes of garlic stored, China has not spoken its last word yet. Its current presence in the European market is still very weak and despite being the main supplier of the EU, it has registered a figure of 18,000 tonnes, well below the 45,000 tonnes registered in 2016.
According to Eurostat, garlic import prices to the EU have increased from an average of 2 euros/kg to 2.30 euros/kg. According to volume, Egypt is one of the most outstanding producers, because by July it had already surpassed the total figure reached in 2016, and so is Peru with 570 tonnes.
Regarding Spain, garlic imports registered low levels with 1,738 tonnes, in relation to 7,555 tonnes recorded in 2016. Average prices from all origins to July have increased from 1.70 euros/kg to 2.50 euros/kg. France is our main supplier with 400 tonnes, followed by Portugal with 316 tonnes and Peru with 204 tonnes.