Drought causes agricultural havoc in Spain

May 18, 2023

2 mins read

Drought has gripped Spain since the end of 2022. Spain is an important supplier of fruit and vegetables to Europe; one market source said that 80% of the Spanish crop had been affected. In response, the Spanish government launched a comprehensive crisis response plan on 11th May, providing €2.19 billion for new water supplies, farmer subsidies, and direct aid. The Agricultural Ministry will grant an additional €784 million to assist with agricultural productivity. 

The water deficit has had a severe impact on cereal crops, rice, and olives and is causing irreversible losses, according to market sources. The output of olive oil alone has dropped by 55% to 660 thousand metric tonnes in the 2022/23 marketing year; this is reflected in the Mintec Benchmark Price for Spanish Extra Virgin Olive Oil [Mintec Code: 8G39] at €6.05/kg, which is an all-time high for the price series. 

The lack of water is severely impacting Spain's vegetable production, with the full extent of the damage only becoming apparent during the harvest, which for a lot of vegetables normally starts in June or July . Market sources estimate that onion production could fall by at least 30%, further supporting the high prices. Tomatoes have been planted, but their development will likely be negatively affected due to water constraints. The fruit industry in Spain, which accounts for around one-third of the EU's fruit supply, is also expected to suffer considerable losses, according to market sources. 

The far-reaching impacts of this drought affect both the arable and pastoral sectors in Spain. According to an EU Commission spokesperson, not only will farmers suffer from the drought, but EU consumers may also face additional hikes to the already-high consumer prices. 

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