Over the past five to ten years, the market for tomatoes grown in Spain has declined, while bell peppers and cucumbers have been rising. However, the recent energy crisis in northern Europe has reversed that downward trend.
“That’s because you don’t have to heat Spanish greenhouses, and there’s more market demand for tomatoes, bell peppers, and cucumbers,” says Guillaume Lacarriere, who heads Bayer’s vegetable seed business in the EMEA region. We spoke to him at their permanent booth at the World Horticulture Center in the Netherlands.
Bayer had expected Spanish-cultivated tomatoes’ popularity to rise; the energy crisis just accelerated that development. Spanish tomato growers also anticipated this, Guillaume explains: they would invest more in their crop and partner with Dutch growers. “That’s needed because, per hectare, tomatoes are less profitable than bell peppers or cucumbers.”
Guillaume highlights the move toward specialties like cherry tomatoes as another development in Spain. “That’s about prices – specialties are more profitable for the same kilos,” he says.
Ultimately it comes down to profit for the grower. “They’re constantly asking themselves: where can I compete? It’s about both short and long-term profitability. There’s an opportunity to grow more tomatoes in Spain, and now it’s up to the growers to determine if that’s profitable. An important consideration is that more than 75% of Spanish production is for export. And I expect to see a shift to more technology in the future.”