Spaniards are facing surging prices for tomatoes and pork amid burgeoning demand for the products from abroad and geopolitical tensions, the Financial Times reported this week, citing the billionaire owner of Spanish supermarket chain Mercadona.
According to the businessman, who is ranked as Spain’s fourth-richest person, the Russia-Ukraine conflict has heavily weighed on tomato prices as it resulted in sharp surge in prices for natural gas, forcing farmers to shut down production of vegetables in greenhouses in Northern Europe due to high heating costs.
As a result, buyers flocked to Spain’s solar-powered growers, pushing up prices from €1.39 per kilogram in January 2021 to €2.05 today.
“The cost has gone up by a whopping 66 cents. We’ve raised prices by 50%,” Roig said, as quoted by the newspaper.
“So we had two options: either buy tomatoes or leave customers without tomatoes. And we believed it was more important to have tomatoes at €2.05 than to not have tomatoes.”
According to Roig, the price of pork, vital for making Iberian ham, has skyrocketed due to soaring demand from China, for which Spain is a major supplier.
“There are one billion Chinese people,” the businessman said. “How much did they ask for? don’t know. What I do know is that pork cost €1.05 [per kilogram in January 2021] and now it costs €1.96.”
Earlier this week, the country's national institute of statistics (INE) reported that the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for food stood at 16.6% in February, marking the highest level since 1994. This is despite the IVA (Spain's sales tax) reductions adopted during the previous month.