Last week, the 25th AECOC Congress of Fruits and Vegetables, held at the Palacio de Congresos de Valencia, gathered together more than 600 producers, distributors and associations of the sector. At the inauguration of the event, the general director of the Association of Manufacturers and Distributors deemed the VAT reduction approved by the Government for some basic foods as “adequate, since it allows the lowest incomes to access healthy products, such as fruits and vegetables , because these households are the ones that spend most of the budget on food”.
In his speech, José Mª Bonmatí said that “inflation data is improving”, but asked “to maintain the VAT reduction until inflation is controlled”. Regarding the current context of price increases, the general director of AECOC recalled that companies “are making efforts to guarantee that consumers can buy the products they need at the best prices, either by reducing their margins or looking for formulas to be more competitive ”.
Bonmati also made reference to the regulatory costs of the measures approved by the administration, and claimed “to guarantee legal certainty and that the incorporated costs serve to achieve the objectives of the regulation, which in cases such as the tax on plastics we believe that it is not fulfilled”.
The value of food in an urban society
The first day of the congress included a speech by the ex-Labour Minister, Manuel Pimentel, who spoke of “the revenge of the countryside”, in reference to the loss of value of food for urban society that has resulted in an abandonment of agricultural productions and, consequently, a notable increase in prices.
In his reflection, Pimentel stated that “it was thanks to globalisation and great supply chain efficiency that low food prices had been reached.” In this context, Pimentel explained that “current regulations are not aimed at increasing food production, but rather at hindering”, and demanded that companies in the sector “feel proud that you provide food to society, which should value us for that”.
Pimentel considered that “the increase in food prices is a problem, because it affects families, but we cannot hold the productive sector or distribution responsible, because we would be shooting ourselves in the foot.” The former labour minister concluded by assessing that “if we continue with regulations that crush production, prices will rise and we will end up having shortage problems.”
An export sector
The General Secretary for Agriculture and Food, Fernando Miranda, valued the fruit and vegetable sector, which produces 28 million tons of food a year and generates €18.6bn a year in exports, as “the star sector in sales abroad”. Miranda cited drought as one of the main challenges in the sector. “Most of the agricultural area in Spain is irrigated, so we must make the best possible use of water.” In this sense, Miranda highlighted that the administration plans an investment of €2.1bn until 2026 to modernise national irrigation systems and improve water reuse systems