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Spain’s Drought Threatens to Push Up EU Food Prices

Spain’s parched soils and intense drought are afflicting a broad range of crops and threatening to drive food prices higher in many EU countries. 

So far this year, cumulative rainfall in Spain is less than one-fourth of the 10-year average, as shown in Gro’s Climate Risk Navigator for Agriculture. The Gro Drought Index (see chart below) shows “extreme” drought levels across the region’s croplands — the highest recorded reading in at least two decades — while soil moisture levels are the lowest since at least 2010, as seen in this Gro Navigator display

Spain is a top producer of fruits and vegetables in the European Union. The country’s tomato crop is particularly vulnerable to drought as it is highly dependent on irrigation for its development and survival throughout the season. And with water supplies strictly rationed in the country, crop production is likely to suffer. 

Spain is the world’s third-largest exporter of tomatoes, with an annual value that typically tops $1 billion. Spain also produces wheat, barley, rice, and olive oil. 

Increased fresh produce prices would exacerbate already high food price inflation, which has been running at double-digit rates across the European Union. Since January 2020, when global food price inflation began to accelerate, EU food prices are up 31%, as shown by Gro’s Agricultural Price Inflation Application

Wheat and barley are Spain’s principal winter cereal crops, and poor weather is forecast to slash wheat output this year. Shortfalls in wheat production, which is mainly used domestically for feed use, necessitate greater imports from neighboring EU countries. Prior to the Russia-Ukraine war, Ukraine was one of Spain’s top suppliers of grains.

Drought conditions in Spain have been exacerbated by searing temperatures. Gro’s Climate Anomalies app shows temperatures over the past month in Extremadura province, the top tomato producing region, have been nearly 9 degrees Celsius above the historical average. Spain has experienced heightened drought conditions since 2022.    

Source : Gro Intelligence