The Spanish vegetable season has been quite disappointing so far, particularly for growers. It is very quiet on the market as well. Guy Deryckere from Van Lier says that this season has not been good for any Spanish vegetables, except zucchini, “It is slow on the market right now, which is why prices are not rising.”

Guy continues, “With the exception of zucchini, the prices for Spanish vegetables are very low. We have not yet received Spanish tomatoes. They are obviously still very cheap in Spain. They arrive at a different time each year. Sometimes they arrive mid-November, other times they arrive at the beginning of December. By the time we start with Spanish tomatoes it is usually already December.”

Guy expects that the poor greenhouse vegetable situation will continue, “For the situation to improve the weather in Spain would have to cool down so that there is less supply, but for now there is a lot of product.”

Spanish growers hand out their products for free

This week Spanish growers gave out their vegetables for free. On Tuesday the Union of Small Farmers (UPA) in Andalusia gave out more than 8,500 kilos of tomatoes, cucumbers and bell peppers in the center of Almeria in protest against the low prices. In just a few weeks time the price of tomatoes in Spain has fallen from 1.17 to 24 cents.

Growers are blaming the warm weather, which has lasted longer than normal, (in their own words) ‘aggressive’ competition from Morocco, speculation from traders and middlemen in the chain.

US food prices surprisingly stable

In January, inflation rates for major food groups were well above the national average. Since then, the rates for products such as fruits, vegetables and meat, have fallen steadily to near zero percent.

California agriculture controls much of Indiana’s winter food prices; and with El Nino expecting to bring much needed rain and snow to the area, inflation could drop even more.

Purdue agriculture economist Chris Hurt was shocked inflation rates fell so much due to the continued drought in California. “I think right now the prospects for food production in California looks positive, and that should help keep our costs of those food product very moderate going forward the next six months to a year,” said Hurt. “What we’ve seen so far on fruits and vegetables is basically unchanged, a surprise really. At the start of the year, we were anticipating the drought damage in California to raise fruit and vegetable prices.”

Fruits and vegetables were expected to take a big hit, but has dropped from 2.3 percent to near zero percent.

“What we’ve seen so far this year is very moderate food inflation. Total cost of food is only up around 1.6 percent,” explained Hurt. “As consumers, we are seeing growth in income; and on average will be more than the cost of inflation of food.”

For farmers, this is tough, as prices are below price of production. But for consumers, it’s a relief on the wallet.

If California receives the anticipated rain and snow, Hurt said consumers should expect these prices to last through the start of 2016.

Greek farmers sign petition against new tax hikes

A petition signed by farmers across Greece regarding government plans to raise their taxes was expected to be handed to SYRIZA deputies in their constituencies over the weekend.

Drawn up by the Farmers Initiative, the petition was signed by 62 local farmers’ associations.

While a second round of prior actions the government is required to fulfill for the next tranche of bailout funding to be released did not include tax hikes on farmers, the latter said new measures were in the pipeline.