Plants are modifying their cycles, especially in flowering and ripening, as a consequence of the increase in temperatures caused by climate change. These alterations to the flora start a chain reaction that reaches our tables.
The climate is a determining factor for the supply of food, especially for those that come from agriculture. The fruit depends on the flower and the appearance of the latter has been anticipated. In Catalonia, almond, cherry, plum and pear trees began flowering before the usual season, according to data from the FenoCat network of the Servei Meteorològic de Catalunya (SMC) and the Center for Ecological Research and Forestry Applications (CREAF) of the Autonomous University of Catalonia. Barcelona.
The imbalance that is being established between the flora and the seasons of the year, causes a greater vulnerability of plants to extreme weather events, such as frost, which are also less and less predictable.
"We are entering something unknown, because in the past, frosts could be anticipated, with which the best time for planting was known, but now nothing is known," says Mariano Sánchez, head of the Garden and Tree Unit of the Royal Botanical Garden of Madrid, for EFE.
The direct consequence of this was seen last month with the price of Spanish watermelons in the supermarket – the kilogram came to around three euros, compared to the euro and peak of the previous summer. More recently it has also been seen in olive oil, which reached eight euros per liter in July, while in December the price was five.
On August 3, Asaja Alicante declared that the perspective continues to be that of a skyrocketing price for oil, since production has been reduced by drought and heat. The flowers, which had been brought forward, ended up "burned", according to the agrarian association.
In Zaragoza, Javier Fatas, a farmer and member of the Coordinator of Farmers and Livestock Organizations (COAG), explains that these changes are being very incidental in the vineyards, "with an advance of at least a couple of weeks in most of the varieties, in most of the territory”. The farmer adds that the lack of water and the heat also influence the size of the fruit and the fattening cycle, the acidity and the PH of the fruits and that this will translate into the flavors of the crops.
And in the Lower Guadalquivir the almond suffers a decrease of 40%. Transformed Products of COAG Andalucía, emphasizes that the first flowering of the almond trees took place under harsh, hot weather conditions, which were followed by torrential rains. Stone fruits are in a similar situation; in Extremadura, the reduction this season has been 24% –compared to 2022–; Lastly, in Valencia, elongated oranges and mandarins have appeared, instead of round ones, due to flowering stress.
At the moment, the effect this will have on prices is unknown; but in an analysis of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) of the last year, some of the largest increases have been identified in olive oil (38.8%), potatoes (22.9%), rice (22 %) and canned fruits (19.4%). If only the last quarter is taken as a reference, the price increase in fresh and refrigerated fruit stands out (19.1%).
The repercussion of the drop in supply may, however, go beyond prices; In the United Kingdom, tomatoes were rationed during the month of February due to the shortage of supplies that climatic adversity had caused in a general way in Europe.