Leafy salad supply to the UK is being disrupted after torrential rains in key Spanish growing regions have led to crop losses in lettuce varieties, spinach and other fruit and vegetables.
Recent heavy rainfall has battered parts of south eastern Spain severely impacting the availability of a variety of crops destined for European markets, including Britain. Spanish supply is particularly important at this peak winter period, over the holidays and new year when there is a greater dependency on imports from the Cartegena and Murcia regions.
Reynolds is a major supplier of Spanish salad crops to the UK foodservice industry. Speaking with PBUK, head of marketing Andy Weir explains how the company will be closely managing supply over the coming days.
“We are certainly aware that there are issues with supply from the Murcia region and we are managing supply at the moment, but it is challenging,” he says.
“Our growers obviously have much less product than they would like given the time of year so they are struggling, but right now we are maintaining availability.”
The Association of Producers and Exporters of Fruits and Vegetables of the Region of Murcia, Proexport, estimates that 50 percent of lettuce production will be not harvested. Meanwhile the total production of spinach and mini-leaves,has been lost.
For Reynolds, celery supply is proving quite difficult as well as Cos and Little Gem varieties.
“Cos is probably the biggest problem right now, and Iceberg is affected to a lesser extent. We work with a network of growers in Spain and supply UK foodservice outlets right across the industry.
“We are monitoring the situation and it is very much a case of working closely with our suppliers to maintain full availability and making sure we keep stocks for loyal customers.
“What tends to happen is obviously you do get people calling in who haven’t got any product and asking if we can supply them, but when you have times when product is thin on the ground it is a case of making sure we look after our loyal customers first, which is the protocol at the moment.”
Proexport also says production of broccoli, cauliflower and zucchini will be affected by excess moisture, but artichoke crops will have benefited from the rain.
President of Proexport’s Iceberg lettuce sector, Javier Soto, says the Christmas campaign for lettuce, spinach and other leaf varieties has been truncated because harvesting was impossible for several days during and after the rain.
“We are going to lose 50 percent of the lettuce production and its varieties that were to be harvested for the Christmas holidays,” he says.
The full extent of the damage is still being assessed across Spain.
Meanwhile, citrus fruits and farming infrastructure were the hardest hit in the Valencia region with the Valencian Farmers Association (AVA-ASAJA) predicting 40 percent of mid-season mandarins were yet to be harvested and were “lost practically entirely” as a result of the devastating rains.
The organisation said in terms of oranges, 30 percent of production was affected for the remaining crop, mostly involving late varieties such as Navelinas with damages estimated at €40 million (£33.9million).In terms of persimmons, technicians from AVA-ASAJA estimate 30 percent of the crop was yet to be harvested, and around 15 percent of that fruit would not be fit for commercialisation, representing losses of around €12 million (£10.1 million).