SPAIN – The European Commission has approved the Spanish government’s request to recall nearly 20,000 tonnes of peaches and nectarines from the market due to excess production.

The Commission approved the recall during a technical meeting in Brussels, the Spanish ministry of agriculture, food, fisheries and environment said in a press release.

The measure will be implemented in “the coming days”.

According to the ministry’s calculations, this will bring the total of the quantities recalled from the market to around 40,000 tonnes. Some 21,000 tonnes have already been withdrawn this summer.

The objective of this initiative is to withdraw surplus production from the market – mainly due to the Russian veto on European fruit and vegetables – in order to stimulate prices.

The 19,550 tons of peach and nectarine will be directed to the production of juice for the benefit of food banks, which will distribute them to the poor.

Of the previously withdrawn 21,000 tonnes, 18,000 were destined to be processed into juice and the remaining 3,000 were delivered fresh to food banks.

The Spanish agriculture ministry announced a meeting with representatives of the sector for Monday, 28 August, to inform them of the “implementation procedure”.

The statement said Agriculture Minister Isabel García Tejerina  “has been actively and personally involved in the negotiations” in recent weeks.

A structural problem

“The stone fruit sector is experiencing structural imbalances due to excess supply that has been occurring every summer since 2014, even before the closing of the Russian market,” the ministry stated but added the situation has aggravated in 2017.

Stone fruit producing regions have all had abundant output this season but in some cases this resulted in difficulties in marketing these fruits.

Due precisely to the “structural” nature of the sector’s problems, the ministry hopes to set up a working group in the autumn to study “medium- and long-term measures” aimed at restoring the balance between supply and demand.

The ministry emphasised that one of the keys to getting Brussels to accept extraordinary measures was that the Spanish government had already adopted other initiatives.

Specifically, Spain approved an increase in the amount of aid for the withdrawal of fruit and vegetables (39% for peaches and 41% for nectarines), as well as for the processing into juice of part of the production that went to the food banks.

It also promoted a campaign to encourage the consumption of stone fruit during summer.

August 25, 2017: EFFEAgro