Spanish produce sales halt in Europe

Updated: 2011-06-01 08:17

By Katell Abiven (China Daily)

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Madrid - Spanish fruit and vegetable sales have halted across nearly all Europe because of a fatal E.coli outbreak blamed on its cucumbers, the industry's export federation said on Tuesday.

The impact had spread and was inflicting estimated losses of 200 million euros ($290 million) a week, said the Spanish fruit and vegetable producer-exporter federation, FEPEX.

Asked which countries had stopped buying Spanish produce, FEPEX President Jorge Brotons told a news conference: "Almost all Europe. There is a domino effect on all vegetables and fruits. A psychosis has been created."

German authorities said they detected the potentially dangerous bacteria on organic cucumbers imported from two producers in southern Spain's Andalucia region.

"Orders are plunging daily," Brotons said. "It is as if an order had gone out across Europe not to buy Spanish produce," he added. "Every week we are throwing out hundreds of tons of produce."

With no alternative markets, "it could lead to the ruin of the industry", Brotons said.

Exports of vegetables, especially cucumbers, peppers, lettuce, and tomatoes, had plunged but fruit exports had also been affected, said the federation's Director-General Jose Maria Pozancos.

"There are Germany supermarkets now that put out a sign saying: 'No Spanish produce sold here'," Pozancos said. "The problem does not come from us, it comes from where the bacteria were detected in Germany.

Pozancos estimated there were 150,000 tons of unsold produce a week and he demanded compensation for the industry at market prices.

Agence France-Presse


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