Shortages Keep Pressure on Europe’s Vegetable Processors
Supply shortfalls continue to be problematic for the frozen vegetable sector, the European Association of Fruit and Vegetable Processors (PROFEL) reported on February 6. In northern Europe, the availability of leek and Brussels sprouts is expected to be down by 30%, while cabbage yields are off by 10%.
PROFEL first sounded the alarm over the impact of crop losses last September. Exceptional rainfalls in May and June, followed by extreme heat and drought conditions in July and August of 2016 resulted in significant reductions in harvests in Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Germany and the UK for peas (-31%), beans (-20 to -25%), spinach (-30%), baby carrots and Parisian carrots (-37%).
The situation is further aggravated by crop losses in Spain caused by extreme weather conditions that began last summer. During the month of September the highest temperatures of the last 50 years were reported in Andalusia, Murcia, Navarra, Extremadura and Levante. In December, the heaviest rains of the past 70 years in southern Andalusia, Murcia and Levante flooded farm fields and curtailed harvests.
In January of 2017 the worst conditions of cold and intense snow during the last 35 years were recorded in Levante, Murcia and Navarra. As a consequence, producers and processors in Spain are suffering serious losses in broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, zucchini, artichoke, eggplant and romanesco. Part of the artichoke crop is frozen in the ground, and growth rates have slowed for other vegetable varieties. For broccoli and cauliflower, losses of 50% have already been reported.
Also in Italy, damage is evident in late-winter crops, following heavy snowfall and frost that hit the south-central part of the country during January. Seriously affected are artichokes, cauliflower, broccoli, spinach, celery and fennels. First estimations suggest a reduction in field yields for broccoli and cauliflower at around 40% to 45%.
The combination of the problems in northern Europe already suffered in 2016 with the disappointing news now reported in the south are expected to have an impact on the total European supply. While yield forecasts are not possible to make at the moment, it is clear that market supply is under pressure.
Headquartered in Brussels, PROFEL represents over 500 companies that last year produced approximately 3.1 million tons of frozen vegetables, 2 million tons of canned vegetables, 1 million tons of canned fruit and compotes, 385,000 tons of fruit preserves, and 35,000 tons of dried vegetables.