Spain still European leader in peach and nectarine production

Tue 29/05/2018 by Richard Wilkinson

Spain has widened the gap with other leading European peach producers in all respects. Spanish production has increased acreage while maintaining productivity. It also has relatively lower labour costs than its competitors, making its exports cheaper. Spain has also invested in new varieties to offer consumers the broadest range, from low to premium level.

Spanish peaches and nectarines are ubiquitous on supermarket shelves across Europe. The flat peach is an example of Spanish R & D success, which is set to be exported to China. Despite limited water resources and salinity problems, Spanish production has adapted and succeeded in supplying massive volumes to the various markets.

Although Spanish production is larger overall, Italy remains Europe’s largest producer for the fresh market (1.2 million tons in 2016). However, most of its production is not premium level. Around 80% of Italian production is for the domestic market. Italians are the continent’s largest peach-nectarine consumers, with 17.1 kg/inhabitant consumed in 2016. Italian exports are on the decline, while imports continue to rise (+ 82% since 2012).

France keeps third position despite a decline in production and surfaces area as well as a deterioration in productivity. In 2016, production decreased by 5%, and surfaces by 4%. In spite of this, the French yield (22.03 tos/ha) is the best in Europe. Although high labour costs appear to have negatively affected competitiveness, the sector has adapted by offering mid-to-high-end products and new varieties in order to diversify its offer. It also specialises in organic production (6.4% of total production in 2016, while its neighbours don’t exceed 3.5%.

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