One of the main bones of contention for agriculture is water. “We are going to depend a great deal on the weather conditions and the restriction of water resources,” Joaquín Hidalgo, General Coordinator of the AGF-Fashion Watermelon Group affirms. To minimise the effects of the drought, they have a project this year at Fashion Watermelon to move forward with their associate producers in the sensorisation of crops. The aim is to “try to reduce water consumption as far as possible. We have been working on it for years and we want to democratise its use on all the farms.” In order to do this they are working with Basf and one of the seed company’s manufacturing partners, both on devices and on varieties adapted to the different crop areas, which allow water consumption to be optimised.
As Hidalgo recalls, “farming does not waste water, it consumes water. Because we produce food and it is necessary.” Companies such as Fashion Watermelon toil to take advantage of every drop and at the same time, the supermarkets are increasing sustainability certifications. A trend which, in Joaquín Hidalgo’s opinion, involves “a certain amount of posing in some steps, particularly regarding consumers.” “There are some steps that are more effective and easy to implement, such as loading complete lorry loads. And this is not being done. With the supermarkets’ goods reception rules (pallet measurements, etc) we ‘load’ between 30-40% of air in each lorry.” Other sustainable steps are the use of reusable pallets and recyclable cardboard.
At Fashion Watermelons, they are starting the campaign with a forecast that is similar to last year’s: 1,500 has and 75,000 tonnes, in spite of the drop in early spring cycle volumes. “At the beginning we will have a slightly smaller area, but we expect to have good yields and quality.”
Its core business involves watermelon for the Spanish home market, but two months before starting the campaign in Almeria, they open the market with some produce from Senegal. “It is a lever used for positioning our brand on the markets and to supply clients until Spanish produce becomes available.” This mini import campaign started off with some logistics problems, but in general, it has gone well and freighting costs have dropped compared to 2022. Although we have not returned to the levels of 2019, it is slowly becoming regulated.”