Watermelon is one of the most popular local crops, as multiple harvests of the fruit can be grown both inside winter greenhouses and outside during the spring months. And the vast farms of the province have been busy growing this luscious crop. Out of the 950.000 tons of the crop which will be consumed within the EU this year, 222.000 tons will come from Almeria province. That’s also 43 per cent of the total harvest of Spain. Almost half of all the watermelon of Europe comes from Spain.
Professor Juan Carlos Pérez of Almeria University has completed a study into the crop which was financed by local rural bank Cajamar. The object of his study was to analyse the local penetration into the European market, with the aim of identifying new approaches to market to help farmers cooperatives increase orders for next year.
The largest consumers of watermelon in the EU are the Germans, who scoff a whopping 28 per cent of the almost one million tons consumed every year. After them come the French, with ten percent of the market, and Holland with nine percent. Other EU countries with similar consumption rates are Poland, Italy and the Czech Republic. The UK only accounts for about five percent of the buying market. However, Spain faces competition from unusual countries – local German farmers have noted the large domestic consumption and are starting to grow their own crops, growing 41.000 tons of the crop last year.
The biggest European producers of the crop after Spain are Italy, Greece and Hungary. Outside of the EU the biggest competitors to Almeria are Costa Rica, Brasil and Senegal, all of whom sell as many watermelons to Europe as their trade agreements allow. However, the long growing season of the fields of Almeria allow local farmers to dominate the market with fresh fruit for longer, and in May of this year no less than fifty five per cent of all watermelons sold in Europe were grown locally. The total value of the crop exported last year was 121 million euros.