While there are no official estimates of the damage to salad and fruit crops grown on the Canary Islands, a picture is beginning to emerge from trade sources of the severe impact caused by the freak tropical storm Delta.
La Palma, which is better known for its bananas and other tropical fruit mainly shipped to the Spanish mainland, was also hit by winds that reached 70 miles an hour.
There has been major damage experienced in Tenerife, which represents some 40% of the Canary Isles tomato crop at a time when production, which lasts from October until
March, was at its peak prior to the build up for Christmas.
While the UK is a major customer, there are also exports of Canary tomatoes to the Continent and Scandinavia.
In the southern part of the island, some tomato nurseries which comprise protective plastic and netted structures have been completely destroyed, according to industry sources, although others have escaped. In the wake of the storm is difficult to assess the damage, but figures as The Grocer went to press varied between five to 15% of the tomato crop . What is of greater concern to the industry is the long-term effect. Growers were looking for good prices following three years during which many in the industry say it has only just broken even.
This inevitably means there will be a shortage of cash to repair the damage and reinvest.
The Spanish government has approved an aid package for the islands’ infrastructure and housing. Growers are hoping that some money will be forthcoming to help their industry recover.
Before the storm hit Foods From Spain had predicted that 205,000 tonnes of tomatoes would be exported to Europe this season with the UK taking 45% of that.
David Shapley