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Cold snap threatened Spain’s supplies and pushes up prices

Cold snap threatened Spain’s supplies and pushes up prices
Photo: Coexphal

The fruit and vegetable sector in Spain was struck by record minimum temperatures last week, with rain and snow falling incessantly throughout the week, which will compromise harvests. Production has fallen considerably and is affecting all products. Prices are high as there is no capacity to supply all the demand that exists, not even to meet most of the commercial agreements that the marketing companies had already closed.

The intense cold keeps the growth of plants and their fruits paralysed while also threatening to cause damage that could be irreparable at this point in the season. Farmers do not have enough volumes either in the field or in their warehouses to supply all orders.

According to the analysis carried out by Juan Carlos Pérez Mesa, professor of the department of economics and business at the University of Almería, “in percentage terms, the products that show the greatest increase are: aubergine, courgette and cucumber. These products have practically doubled in price in a week. The price of tomato grows almost 60%. The pepper is the product with the lowest increase (17%).”

The weekly monitoring data for tomato and cucumber available to COEXPHAL reflect that the rise in prices is due to a very significant drop in production. Pérez Mesa points out that in the case of tomatoes “the decrease during the first week of the year is 27% and the same figure will remain during the next week.” Similar is the behavior of cucumbers, whose volume could fall by 30% in week 2 of this year. In the case of courgette and aubergine, a similar behaviour is expected for the next few days.

The professor from the University of Almería recalls that “although the price increase is always good news, it is not so much when they exceed the threshold at which the customer decides to stop buying.” In addition, the significant drop in the number of kilos also compromises the profitability of farmers at a crucial time for the campaign. Everything indicates that this complicated situation will be extended in time as bad weather is forecast to continue.

Cold damage manifests in various ways, depending on the microclimate of the different production areas. In parts of the province furthest from the coast, such as Campohermoso and Berja, there have been nights with frost, reaching -4ºC at the end of December. There have been losses due to freezing in many farms, affecting 20% ​​of the plants. In some cases, with relatively young plants, the entire greenhouse has been lost.” In addition, he points out that “in Berja, the frosts have brought forward the end of pepper cultivation in many places”.

Jan van der Blom warns that “the cold causes the growth points to weaken, making it difficult to flower or set during a long season. Given this, many producers who had planned to carry out a long tomato campaign, are forced to cut the plants early to carry out a spring crop.”


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How solar greenhouses in southern Europe work

How solar greenhouses in southern Europe work © Réussir Fruits et Légumes

© Réussir Fruits et Légumes


Thanks to the greenhouse crops of the Spanish southeast, which occupy an agricultural area of ​​35,000 hectares distributed between Almería and Granada, 60% of the European population can consume fresh, healthy and natural fruits and vegetables at any time of the year, even in the winter months when low temperatures prevent continental production.

The coast of Almería and Granada has an average of more than 3,000 hours of sunshine a year. This, together with the use of plastics that cover crops, has allowed this area to go from having subsistence agriculture to being the most advanced and productive system in the world. In fact, in 2017, the UN chose Almería and Granada as the best example of sustainability to feed the world – a system that is nourished solely by sunlight.

Often, when we talk about solar greenhouses in southern Spain, we tend to make the mistake of thinking that they work thanks to the photovoltaic energy produced by solar panels, but this idea is nothing more than a misunderstanding, since it is solar panels that transform solar energy into photovoltaic energy, while in solar greenhouses, sunlight is transformed directly on the leaves of plants into “photonutritive” and “photoshealthy” energy. Photovoltaic energy is transformed, for practical purposes, into electricity; while the “photonutritional” and “photoshealthy” energy is transformed into vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fibre and water, that manifest in the form of delicious fresh fruits and vegetables.

As Jan van der Blom, head of Aproa’s Agroecology department, said: “In solar greenhouses, the sun’s rays hit the plastic covers, letting the necessary light pass through so that the plants can carry out photosynthesis, absorbing CO2 from the air and transforming it into rich and healthy nutrients. In this process huge amounts of oxygen are released into the atmosphere.”

In this way, 96% of the energy used in the solar greenhouses in Almería and Granada comes solely from the sun, without the need to use other sources of energy or fossil fuels. This model is notably different from the production methods of other wintering areas, where artificial heating and lighting systems based on fossil fuels are used, which entail up to 30% more energy consumption, plus the consequent polluting effect.

Sun and plastic have made it possible to give the ideal conditions for the growth of plants, protecting them not only from inclement weather or pests but also taking advantage of the resources of light, temperature and humidity.

The plastic covers used in apparently very simple solar greenhouses are, however, the fruit of many years of research and innovation. Today the plastic sheet of the roof of solar greenhouses is made up of several layers with different additives that give it very interesting properties for cultivation.

Thus, the outer layer contains agents that block the entry of part of the ultraviolet light that is not necessary for plants and that, in addition, makes it difficult for many insect pests to enter, since they need this wavelength to be able to see. On the other hand, the internal layers prevent the heat accumulated by the ground during the day from escaping at night. In addition, these layers include compounds that hinder the proliferation of some fungi and the excessive condensation of water in conditions of high humidity.

The covers are replaced every three years and due to their high recyclability they are collected by specialised companies to be reused. They are normally used in the manufacture of garbage containers or urban furniture, wastebaskets, banks, etc.

Greenhouses in the southeast of Spain are fed exclusively by sunlight, with the help of natural ventilation and the roof bleaching technique as climate control systems. Natural ventilation allows control of temperature, humidity and CO2 concentration inside the greenhouse, while whitening the cover reduces the amount of solar radiation that is transmitted inside the greenhouse during times of higher insolation, which allows crops carry out their photosynthetic activity and, in addition, provides the energy that heats plants, soil and air. This absolutely sustainable and natural system guarantees healthy, tasty, high-quality, variety and fresh products throughout the year.

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Horti DATA Forum 2020 stresses importance of digitisation

Horti DATA Forum 2020 stresses importance of digitisation, Lorenzo Ramos, secretary general of the UPA © Ecoinver
Lorenzo Ramos, secretary general of the UPA, on screen © Ecoinver


Last week, Spain’s Almería province became the country’s epicentre of horticultural digitisation with the development of the Horti DATA 2020 Forum. A complete programme of events with top-level experts in innovation and applied digitisation in the horticultural sector had a hybrid format, developed by the Almería Science and Technology Park under the organisation of Siete Agromarketing and the UPA.

With more than 250 people registered electronically, Horti DATA 2020 focused on digitisation in the horticultural sector and showcased the advances that digitisation can bring. The secretary general of the UPA, Lorenzo Ramos, said: “New technologies have already entered areas of ​​our life, agriculture and livestock, which cannot be ignored. It can help us improve production processes and be more efficient in our crops.” Ramos also referred to the opportunities offered in the field of product traceability throughout the entire chain and so that “the final consumer knows what conditions the products are grown in”, as well as the wide possibilities that they generate for direct sale from the producer to the final consumer.

But the aspect that the Secretary General of UPA emphasised the most was the digital divide that still persists at the national level, taking advantage of this forum to call for greater connectivity throughout the territory and the elimination of digital poverty in rural areas in terms of quantity and quality of connection, as well as in terms of training.

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COEXPHAL analyses the modus operandi of fruit and vegetable companies after Brexit

COEXPHAL analyses the modus operandi of fruit and vegetable companies after Brexit
Photo: Coexphal

Almeria’s Association of Organizations of Fruit and Vegetable Producers COEXPHAL held a webinar last week titled ‘Brexit: practical aspects for exporters’ in which it addressed the post-Brexit scenario facing producers and marketers of fruit and vegetables.

Juan Antonio González Real, president of COEXPHAL, said: “Most of the COEXPHAL associates are exporters and the United Kingdom is our second market, both in volume and value. This is why Brexit concerns us very directly and we have considered it necessary to prepare this meeting, focused on the practical aspects that fruit and vegetable exporters should know, and with the presence of the 3 administrations that intervene in the procedures that we have to have consider.”

Manager of COEXPHAL, Luis Miguel Fernández, analysed the impact of a Brexit without an agreement on the export of fruit and vegetables from Almeria and Spain. “Most of our peppers, cucumbers, courgettes, aubergines, melons, watermelons, and tomatoes (although in recent seasons their export share to the UK has dropped) occupy an important market niche in the winter months in the UK. The proposal for tariffs on the fruit and vegetable product, if there is no agreement, is around 10% on average, without the existence of tariffs for Moroccan products, which produces a very worrying competitive disadvantage. The question that assails us is if we are finally going to a Brexit without an agreement, and the tariffs cannot be assumed, will the United Kingdom be able to look for other sources to source these fruits and vegetables? And, will there be other origins that can reach a sufficient volume to cover our gap?”

General director of Fepex, José Mª Pozancos, discussed the bilateral agreements between the UK and other countries: “The United Kingdom is negotiating trade agreements with non-EU suppliers of fruit and vegetables, and in this negotiation it has followed the common global tariff technique, replicating the trade agreements that the EU already has with those countries. Thus, it has simplified ad-valorem duties and schedules, has taken as a reference the tariff quotas of the European Union and has adapted them to the size of its market, significantly reducing them, applying the criterion of what its market share was. of the EU. And in relation to entry prices and specific prices, its application has been suspended. Furthermore, all member states of the European Union will receive the same treatment. There is no option for a bilateral negotiation. In the case of third countries, yes, and obviously this will have negative consequences for our sector.”

The technical part of the day focused on practical aspects and necessary procedures related to phytosanitary inspection, quality inspection and export.

Ignacio Menéndez, regional coordinator of Plant Health Inspection, said: “The current situation of the phytosanitary requirements established by the United Kingdom for the export of plants (V), plant products (PV) and other objects (OO) coming from the territory of the Union has been categorised into “High Priority plants”: which include machinery, potatoes, seeds of various species, wood, bark, trunks and branches of various species; Regulated products and exempt products. In addition, three phases of application of the regulations starting 01/01/2021. It is also necessary to take into account that all the movement of packaging and stowage of wood must be carried out with wood treated in accordance with the international standard NIMF-15.”

Pedro Martínez, provincial director of commerce in Almería, explained the conditions of trade with the United Kingdom after its departure from the European Union. “In January 2021, the United Kingdom will no longer have the obligation to apply EU regulations and the trade agreement that is reached for each of the sectors would enter into force. If there is no agreement, the United Kingdom will have the same treatment as other countries of the World Trade Organization with which the European Union does not have a preferential agreement. For the export and import of merchandise, on January 1, 2021, the need to carry out all customs and non-customs procedures required for a third country will begin. With or without a trade agreement, after the transitional period, the United Kingdom will be outside the EU Customs Union and will be a third country for all purposes both in trade of goods and services. Their products will cease to have the status of originating in the EU.”

Rafael Rogelio Molina, head of the Almería Customs and IIEE Unit, stressed that “in commercial exchanges, leaving the United Kingdom with or without an agreement will mean that they are subject to customs and non-customs procedures or formalities to verify the compliance with community legislation including the possible obligation to have an authorization or certificate from the competent authorities, which implies an additional procedure prior to import/export. On the other hand, products that are in transit, so that they are cleared by Spanish customs to continue to their final destination in the United Kingdom, will not be subjected to non-customs control in accordance with Union legislation, since presumably they will not they will be introduced in the internal market.”

Molina added: “It is important to highlight that the departure from the United Kingdom will mean that the EU’s trade agreements with third countries will cease to be applied in the United Kingdom, including the scope of preferential regimes. As of January 1, 2021, UK inputs (materials or processing operations) will be considered ‘non-EU origin’ within the framework of a preferential trade regime to determine the origin of the goods that incorporate them. It is therefore recommended that the operator verify whether the merchandise continues to have preferential origin in the EU and make sure that it can prove said origin.”

Gilles Percelay, commercial director of Ronco y Cía, said: “We are customs representatives and we take care of carrying out all the Customs procedures that exporters do not have the capacity to carry out. The United Kingdom has connections from the north of France, Belgium and the north of Spain with short sea routes. It is very important to arrive at the ports with the arrangements made and it is recommended that customs procedures be carried out at origin. This means that shipments should be dispatched in Almería and will have to arrive at the ports of departure with all the procedures completed.”

The webinar ended with the intervention of José Rodríguez de Guanter Rodríguez: “We carry out 20,000 annual operations of fruit and vegetables from third countries. We have created a network with customs representatives in all Spanish points where there is Customs, Fito and SOIVRE to give a complete service to the client. This same network has been created in France, which allows that, if the export cannot be done in Spain due to time or holidays, it can be done in France. We have a system that makes everything easy for the exporter. We take care of picking up the merchandise from Almería and putting it in London at the customer’s home, the importer and exporter don’t worry about customs procedures.”

In conclusion, the sector must put itself in the worst case scenario to work out ways of exporting to the UK in the case of a hard Brexit. Possible tariffs will reduce the profitability of Spanish fruit and vegetable exports to the United Kingdom and work should be done by Europe, in this sense, to eliminate or minimise them, studying the possibility of compensatory payments to offset said tariffs. The United Kingdom is the third largest market for Almería and so all fronts must work together to maintain the export volume and profitability that no other market can provide.


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UNICA to reach 500 million kilos in next campaign following incorporation of Copisi

UNICA to reach 500 million kilos in next campaign following incorporation of Copisi

The group maintains its position as the largest agro-food company in Almeria and the largest horticultural exporter in Spain, with an expected turnover of €550 million.

UNICA expects to reach 500 million kilos in the next campaign and consolidate its position as the leading agro-food company in Almería, following the incorporation of Copisi (Cooperativa San Isidro Labrador S.C.A.), approved by the assembly on July 4. Copisi’s production volume exceeds 30 million kilos and its main products are California pepper, Almeria cucumber and, to a lesser extent, aubergine and watermelon, among others. Copisi will add volumes to UNICA in some of the products in its catalogue for which there is greatest demand.

Turnover for the next campaign is expected to reach €550 million, which includes the services offered by the cooperatives.

For UNICA, this season will close with an estimated increase of 34% and, next year’s growth is also expected to be around 30%, thanks to the latest additions, which besides Copisi, include: Coopaman (a second-degree cooperative specialised in garlic and European leader in the production of purple garlic, with a total commercialised volume of 20 million kilos), Sunaran (dedicated to production and marketing of citrus in the Guadalquivir Valley, with a production of 50 million kilos).

Copisi, based in El Ejido, is one of the longest-running cooperatives in Almeria. At present, it has 160 members, 300 hectares of crops and more than 700 workers divided into the areas of production, processing, marketing and management.

The Copisi cooperative is of family origin and has maintained great stability since its founding in the 1970s. For Copisi, the annexation to UNICA represents a qualitative leap to reach new clients that have a winning strategy in the market and with which Unica works jointly.

“Just as we joined together in cooperatives fifty years ago, now we are joining a second-tier cooperative. We have fewer intermediaries, we make more volumes and our clients count on us,” said president of Copisi, Rosendo Pozo. “The new generations are less conformist and want to have access to all the news that is coming to market. Rather than innovate, we have opted to concentrate volume. With this operation, we have more possibilities to innovate with UNICA, with new varieties, organics and everything that the market demands.”

For the president of UNICA, José Martínez Portero, this is a very important step: “We have now added more greenhouse product than we already had. This is a true concentration of supply, which is why UNICA was founded. Removing operators from the market is good for farmers and that is why we have to fight for it.”.

UNICA operates in Almería, Granada, Málaga, Murcia, Cádiz, Córdoba and Cuenca through: Agrolevante, Cabasc, Camposol, Casur and Parquenat (part of the new Natursur), Coopaman, Cohorsan, Cota 120, Europeans, Granagenil, El Group, Ferva, Parafruts, Virgen del Rocío and Sunaran. The fresh production of the AN Group cooperatives is also sold through Unica Fresh.

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ECO-FORUM Syngenta- Zeraim

ECO-FORUM Syngenta- Zeraim

The challenges for pepper and organic production debated in Almería

The consistency of the Spanish and European pepper market, its challenges and the prospects for expansion over the coming years thanks to continuous research of new varieties of resistant seeds: this was the starting point of a professional day of great interest held in El Ejido, Almería, under the organisational umbrella of the firms Syngenta and Zeraim. At the ‘Eco-Forum’, numerous professionals came from the fields of production, marketing and research to share their knowledge and analyse the landscape of the sector. All of the presentations had a point in common: the promising and expansive current state and the short and medium term projection of the organic products market, which is already a consolidated trend on a global scale.

Spain, which has grown at a rate of 7% in the last year and had already exported over 700,000 tons in the previous three years, is still the largest European pepper seller and second in the world, only to Mexico, which sells 95% of its production to the United States. In 2016, 3.5 million tons of pepper were exported worldwide, confirming the great boom of this product since the turn of the century (in 2000, one million tons sold to foreign markets), as explained by the editor of Eurofresh Distribution, Pierre Escodo, who coordinated the debate.

In Spain, the geographical area of ​​the southeast (Almeria, Murcia and south of Alicante) produces almost all of the volumes for export of this vegetable, as outlined by the CEO of Coexphal Almeria, Juan Colomina. In 2018, 745,901 tons of pepper was exported from Spain – an increase of 181,000 tons in the last six years. The head of Proexport Region of Murcia, Fernando Gómez, stressed that almost all of that increase (161,000 tons) comes from Andalusia (mainly Almeria), which is also seeing strong growth in organic production despite not yet reaching the region of Murcía, a territory that already integrates biological control at 95% of its farms and that in 5 years expects 50% of its production of California pepper to be organic.

One of the most striking conclusions of the day was the confirmation that the Spanish pepper is already available for the European market 365 days a year. Speaking about the organic landscape, Gómez also stressed the need to sustain the growth in the extension of organic crops according to market demands, encouraging farmers who grow conventional products to switch to organic farming. It offers an undoubted added value, “only if they have an adequate business plan”. He also highlighted the need for a union between the producers of southeastern Spain and the ‘battle’ that they are proposing in Brussels so that the hydroponic crop can also be certified as organic.

The Eco-Forum of Syngenta and Zeraim devoted space to the certification of organic production and the different regulations in the countries inside and outside of the European market. Juan Manuel Sánchez, director of certification of the CAAE – Europe’s largest certifier by area – stressed the difficulty of competing with the organic producers of the United States or other countries which have much less demanding regulations. In the case of Spain, there are inequalities even within the different regions, giving the example of Andalusia, where there is a regime of very strict sanctions and regulatory requirements, which complicates the path for producers who decide to go green.

In spite of the exporting importance of the Spanish pepper, there is weak domestic consumption of this vegetable. Some varieties that are widely exported to other markets such as Germany or France are almost unknown by Spanish consumers. Despite the fact that pepper consumption grew in 2018, it is still below the values ​​of previous years.

The British market was another focus of the day, with the contribution of the expert consultant in the UK, José Miguel Flavián, who highlighted the peculiarities of the ‘British’ market, the third largest in Europe (after Germany and France) and the ninth globally. The UK market has seen significant growth in organic production and has demanding consumers.

In this regard, consultant David del Pino spoke of the values ​​related to health, well-being and the environment that currently drive the most important worldwide consumption trend, emphasising the ‘hygienic’ factors that every producer has to comply with scrupulously if they do not want to lose a significant market share or shatter their credibility with consumers. Del Pino calls this a “new religion” and estimates that it will continue to be a determining factor in markets in the near future, “whatever is sustainable or healthy”. And, in his opinion, “what is healthy is what the consumer identifies as healthy, whether it is or not”. At this point, he moved on to discuss the current trend for “the local” product, which in many markets like the US is as popular, or more so, among consumers than organics.

Flavián noted that the UK market has its own characteristics, such as the well-established online channel (number one in Europe), thanks to the great confidence brought by its good functioning, closely related to organics, which are showing very good results in online sales. Or the ‘convenience’ models of small stores, which are comparable in importance to large-scale distribution. He also highlighted the effect of market introspection that Brexit is causing, which has led to a decline in imports and leaves the sector in great uncertainty in relation to tariffs and other consequences that could result from the UK’s exit from the European Union. This is generating some distortion in the commercial relations of other countries with the British Isles.

Research represented another fundamental aspect of the Eco-Forum held in Almeria. Zyngenta-Zeraim is a global reference in this field thanks to the different lines it operates to generate seeds resistant to diseases that, until now, can only be fought externally with phytosanitary products and, in many cases, with poor results. The brand has an extensive catalogue of 16 pepper varieties resistant to Oidium and Nematodes, developed by its extensive breeding team, which includes the speakers José Antonio Chicón and Víctor Domínguez, and that has R & D stations spread all over the world (Spain, United States, Holland, India, Kenya, Thailand). The objective in the short and medium term is to generate seeds that can also resist phytohpthora, WF, thrips, botrytis, aphid or TSWV: P1. Without a doubt, there can be no better proof of the fact that organic farming is progressively eliminating products to fight diseases, thanks to the resistance that practically all seeds, pepper and other crops, will have in the not too distant future.


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Almería, tomato capital of the world

Almería, tomato capital of the world

The Spanish province of Almería produces over one million tons of tomatoes for consumption inside and outside Spain. Hence, for the fifth consecutive year, the World Tomato Day was celebrated in this province on 16th March, with the party taking place in Paseo de Almería, rather than in the Plaza del Ayuntamiento (as in previous years),to accommodate the larger participation.

The event featured numerous activities relating to the tomato for the 1,000 Almerians in attendance. There was an exhibition ‘The tomato: the red gold of the Mediterranean diet’, with lessons on how to prepare different recipes that can be made with the tomato, as well as innovative products. In addition, Almeria is the 2019 Spanish Capital of Gastronomy.

The mayor of Almería, Ramón Fernández-Pacheco, said, “The tomato is a product for which Almería is known worldwide. The tomato of Almería is something of a prestige for the Almería brand and also for Spain brand, together with the rest of the fruits and vegetables that we produce in our province. This is why we were chosen to be the Spanish Capital of Gastronomy. We should be very proud of our products and the work our farmers do to turn the desert into the pantry of Europe.”

The event is organised by companies in the fruit and vegetable sector, local media, the Almería City Council, the Provincial Council and the Junta de Andalucía – the major suppliers of this product in the Spanish southeast. Apart from the thousand citizens who enjoyed the tomato festival, various companies in the province of Almería and the gastronomy industry met to strengthen ties at this fifth edition. The different firms were present with their stands to inform the public of the importance of tomato and a balanced and varied diet.


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Unica Fresh opens commercial delegation in Valencia

Unica Fresh opens commercial delegation in Valencia

The new office will offer clients of this strategic area a more direct and personalised treatment

Unica has opened a new commercial headquarters in Valencia that will cover the entire Levante area. The new office’s first addition is Rubén Morte, who has previously worked in positions of commercial responsibility and quality in several production and marketing companies and who will be responsible, in addition to managing client and products of the entire Unica group, for providing support and service in the city of Valencia and its surrounding areas.

Unica has taken this new step with the aim of serving its current customers and potential distributors better and more directly. The firm has decided to increase its presence in Valencia, which represents a key location. With this office, closer treatment will be provided in an area where a large part of the activity of marketing and export of agri-food products is concentrated.

There are numerous distribution chains and purchasing centres for international supermarkets located in this region, hence the decision to establish a physical office in Valencia to continue providing customers the best service.

Contact details of new commercial office:

Avenida de Francia, 44

Entresuelo-Office 16 46023 Valencia

Contact telephone number: 607 343 482

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Almeria’s watermelon prices crash

sandia almeria

According to the association of young fruit growers of Almeria, ASAJA, prices at source of summer fruits have fallen dramatically this year. The most affected fruit is the watermelon which has seen prices paid to the farmer plummet by 82% in 10 days, reaching as little as 10 cents kg. “We have been under pressure for weeks to lower prices that were much higher than what we have been receiving in recent years and we can see that they have finally plunged,” said president of ASAJA Pascual Soler.

The cool spring temperatures delayed the start of the watermelon campaign and with productivity lower this year, prices were relatively good until the Levante area entered production and sent prices crashing. The ASAJA intends to inform AICA of the situation in the hope that the matter will be properly investigated.

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CASI organises People’s Run to celebrate the Almeria tomato

casi logo popular running

On June 17th, CASI will hold a special day for all farmers, workers and consumers who love the healthy life to raise awareness of Almeria’s local tomato through sport and celebrate the land, food safety, respect for the environment and taste. Spain’s largest agricultural cooperative has organised a People’s Run to raise money for the NGOs A Toda Vela and Argar, who help parents of children with cancer. “We could not end our campaign in a better way,” said Miguel Vargas, president of the cooperative. “Our intention is to promote a healthy lifestyle and bring farmers and consumers together in a relaxed atmosphere.”

The run will end at the CASI La Cañada facilities and will consist of a 7km and 10km run and a 7.5km hike. There will be games and other fun activities to entertain children and encourage them to live healthy lives.

Pre-registrations begin from Thursday, May 17th at and the runners will make a donation of 10 euros that will entitle them to a race number and kit that CASI and collaborators will provide. All participants will be offered to a paella and a musical show at the same finishing line.