Whatever the source of the Europe’s deadly E. coli outbreak, the region’s vegetable growers are facing major economic losses.
With Spain initially accused – wrongly – by Germany of being the source Spanish markets have seen a huge drop off in business.
Stall owner Alvaro Torres said he is making few sales, particularly of cucumbers: “People don’t say anything but they’re not buying cucumbers. This is high season for cucumber sales; when its hot, for the chilled soup ‘gazpacho’ and in salads, but now we are hardly selling any at all.”
And it is not just cucumbers. The head of Spain’s fruit and vegetable export federation said orders for everything have slumped.
As it is Europe’s top producer, Spain has been worst effected and estimates it is losing 28.5 million euros a day.
The German farmers’ association put the daily loss is 3.8 million euros, Italy 2.9 million, France 1.5 and Belgium 500,000 euros.
As well as the growers the crisis has also hit delivery companies, packagers, and other businesses.
Agriculture is a particularly sensitive area in Europe. It accounts for less than two percent of the EU’s economy, but subsidies to European farmers represent about 40 percent of the European Union’s annual spending.