THE prospect of a no-deal Brexit is striking fear into the hearts of Andalucia’s fruit and vegetable farmers.
Large swathes of the region, particularly Almeria, make more than €100 million per year solely from the British market, which spends big on high quality produce like avocados and mangoes.
It means the threat of UK import tariffs, volatiles exchange rates and a damaged British economy is sounding alarm bells among growers in southern Spain.
“The fruit and vegetable produce for the UK market is of top quality, so the prices paid by the supermarkets there are very attractive for us,” farmer Andres Gongora, who sells most of his tomatoes and other crops to Tesco, told The New European.
Scores of other Spanish growers export their watermelons, cucumbers and lettuces to UK giants like Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer while northern Europe freezes in the winter.
Almería delivered almost 285,000 metric tons of farm produce last year to England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, making the UK the province’s third-largest market after Germany and France, according to Spain’s General Directorate for Customs.
The sales brought the region just over €274 million euros in revenue last year.
“If the British economy goes through a tough period, in terms of the people, their wages… we’re wondering what their purchasing power will be like,” added Gongora.
Alicia Sanchez, a ministry of commerce official dealing with foreign trade, warned of new border delays, with a nightmare scenario seeing fruit rotting on trucks while drivers wait to have their paperwork stamped and permission to enter the UK.
And if Spanish growers are forced to compete for customers in other EU countries, it could create a produce glut and drive down prices.
“It will be hard… to find new clients or new countries. It’s almost impossible,” added Llonch, saying that farmers who sell almost all of their produce to the UK ‘are terrified’.