Conspiracy of circumstances

Thinking about my 25 years as a food and agriculture journalist, I realise that I have never seen an autumn-winter like the one that is approaching.

And this is so because, since I write about everything from the evolution of citric fruits to the apple campaign, I have observed that all, absolutely all, products are experiencing a downward trend. It does not matter where you look: potato, kaki fruit, avocado, etc.

All of this in an inflationary context in which temporary solutions are being applied but without, at the moment, any success. Although I am not an economist, common sense tells me that inflation should be dealt with at its origin. In other words, if food prices are rising excessively (even though they still do not reflect all the increased costs, with the first level bearing the brunt), we will have to take action regarding the increase of those supplies affecting prices at the origin: fertilisers, energy bills due to watering, energy bills for cold storage.

There is not a single agricultural company in this country whose energy bill has not tripled or quadrupled.

In this series of socioeconomic disruptions, first the recovery from the pandemic, then the war, and now the energy crisis, we are continuing to experience the impact of imbalances that have led to several proposals, such as a series of basic food items for 30 euros that, at the moment, has not moved beyond the debating stage and has resulted in very few initiatives.

There are, in addition, two unfavourable circumstances that are going to make this conspiracy worse. One on the international scene: the largest purchaser of Spanish fruit and vegetables, Germany, will enter into recession within a few months and, as we know, when Europe’s main driving force sneezes, we will all be affected to some extent. And I am afraid that it will be to a large extent in our case, since some German supermarkets have already stopped stocking some bio products and started replacing them with essential categories (e.g., potatoes). Even Germany’s Ministry is carrying out thought-provoking campaigns to promote its own apples, not only as a more sustainable measure, but also as a more economical one.

And at the national level, within three months we will experience another blow in Spain with the introduction of restrictive, and stupid, legislation obliging fruit and vegetables, in quantities weighing less than 1.5 kilos, to be placed on shop shelves without any type of packaging. We will have to see how marketing companies and the supermarkets themselves adapt because, at the moment, nobody has the slightest idea. Not even the legislation’s ideologists, ie, the politicians of the moment.

Our food supply is at stake, and Spain’s food and agricultural companies cannot be in the red or close to such a situation. What can be more important than what we eat? Our health, obviously, which is closely linked to our diet.

But not all of this text is going to be negative. We are about to begin Fruit Attraction, and this Madrid fair, with a record of foreign exhibiters, is now on the same level as Fruit Logistica. Therefore, I hope you make a lot of contacts, receive a lot of input, participate in a lot of dialogue and, the best of all, in person.

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