Spain is expected to produce more than 230,000 tonnes of artichoke, although the lack of rainfall could diminish yields
The Spanish artichoke harvest for 2017/2018 will increase by 5%, meaning an output of 231,000 tonnes of product. The Association for the Promotion of Artichoke Consumption, Artichoke of Spain, which held its IV Annual Assembly at the Fruit Attraction Trade Show, stated that the increase will occur, “despite the existence of unfair competition from other countries.” This is due to the fact that third countries are not as regulated as other EU countries in anything related to foreign trade, and this is the case with Egyptian artichoke.
However, the Spanish artichoke will continue in the same rising trend that it has been following in recent years going from the 220,000 tonnes produced in 2016/2017 to 231,000 tonnes expected this year.
Despite this positive trend, artichoke producers believe that the absence of rainfall, it has hardly rained since 2014, can diminish crop yields, although they are used to dealing with more difficult weather conditions every year due to the increasing temperatures, amongst other problems. “If it rains a bit and it is cold without reaching the point of strong frosts, the season will go well,” said Pedro Herrera, vice president of Artichoke of Spain.
The lack of water arouses concern, mainly, in producers of one of the largest cultivation areas, Campo de Cartagena (Murcia), who are the most affected by this problem. Despite this, the losses that can be caused in the most affected areas will be compensated with an increase of about 20% in other production areas such as the Guadalentín Valley (Murcia), the Vega Baja del Segura (Alicante), Valencia, Navarra and Zafarraya (Granada).
“Spanish artichoke is at a good moment, but with certain fears regarding the lack of water, so we are working hard so that each year the production continues to increase, although it is not very noticeable. On the other hand, the government does not have a firm commitment to provide a solution to the problem or an adequate national plan,” denounces Herrera.
The threat from Egypt
By contrast, canned and frozen artichoke had a stable increase last season, but not remarkable. The main problem the starting season faces is focused on the frozen crop, and this is caused by artichoke that is imported from countries like Egypt, from where between 25% and 30% of low quality, frozen artichoke originates and is consumed by Spain. This can cause consumption, the demand from processing companies in our country and the price of the product with it, to descend, according to Antonio Navarro, executive director of Azarbe Ultracongelados, a partner company of the non-profit entity.
Despite this, Spanish artichoke production destined to frozen products has experienced an increase of 15% in the season 2016/2017, reaching 20,000 tonnes, while exports have also registered an increase of 15%.