Fruit and vegetables, the Spanish organic production ambassadors
Thanks to the work of farmers and processors, consumers associate organic production with high quality and healthy food; and nothing better represents the quality of Spanish organic production in international markets than organic fruit and vegetables.
Like for olives, the cultivation of fruits and vegetables in their vast diversity is deeply link with the culture and tradition of many corners of Spain. Consumption and spread into the Mediterranean diet are of course part of this - the best example of gastronomy and health coming together.
In addition to nutritional importance, vegetable products in general and organic-produced ones in particular, have become one of the modern agriculture motors, an important source of wealth for many rural zones and a valuable generator of employment. It is also one of the sectors that is known to cultivate research, development and innovation, to look for and to apply new solutions in the control of insects, in automation of infrastructure, in packaging and marketing formulas for consumers, and in improvement of the logistic process.
Organic fruits and vegetables are high quality products, marketed mainly as whole pieces, freshness being the most important marketing attribute. Organic professionals have adapted their production processed to incorporate new consumer demands, making a considerable effort in the development and implementation of quality, sanitation and hygienic food control systems. This way consumers are supplied with products that match their wishes and that provided added value.
The fruit and vegetable sector
Currently, the fruit and vegetable sector the largest part of agricultural production in Spain. In the last years, this sector has continually increased its share in agri-food production and plays a strategic role in the Spanish economy.
Spain is the second largest producer of conventional fruit and vegetables after Italy, and is the biggest European exporter. This Spanish fruit and vegetable sector ranked first in agricultural exports and fifth in total exports from Spain, and in 2011, exported around 10.5 million tonnes worth about 8,600 million euros.
In terms of organic production, according to data released by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment, in 2012 organic vegetables were cultivated on 10,235 hectares, 4,869 hectares of fruit and nuts from a total of 98,272 hectares for all fruit and vegetables in Spain. This places Spain ahead in number of hectares devoted to these crops in Europe. By communities, Andalusia, Murcia and Castille-La Mancha are those with the most organic acreage of fruits and vegetables.
The organic fruit and vegetable industry also has a significant number of operators. In 2012 the Ministry counted 1,297 companies engaged in the handling and storage of fruits and vegetables.
The fresh fruit and green vegetable sector has significant export orientation, as it derives most of its profits from foreign markets. Some authority reports state that export reaches up to 99% of the volume produced. Although horticultural production is highly promoted in the domestic market, the above figures give an idea of the current export importance and the further development of new commercial channels for the sector.
Due to the importance of this sector in Andalusia and Castille-La Mancha, Ecovalia Association had develop specific actions to promote organic fruit and vegetables from these regions through support of the participation and promotion of fruit and vegetable companies and their products at trade fairs and via campaigns, at national and international level.
Article co-financed by the Regional Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Development of the Government of Andalusia and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, under the "Europe Invests in Rural Areas" programme