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Extreme heatwaves 'are endangering the quality of European delicacies'

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By Euronews
Workers collect white grapes of sauvignon in the Grand Cru Classe de Graves of the Château Carbonnieux, in Pessac Leognan, south of Bordeaux, southwestern France, August
Workers collect white grapes of sauvignon in the Grand Cru Classe de Graves of the Château Carbonnieux, in Pessac Leognan, south of Bordeaux, southwestern France, August   -   Copyright  Credit: AP   -  

Intense droughts this summer has damaged all sorts of harvests in Europe. Producers of cereals, honey and wine, for instance, are struggling to deliver normal output levels and ensure consistent quality.

The extensive heatwaves have endangered the production of Europe's regional specialties, such as France’s world-famous cheeses and Spanish jamón. These products are protected under an EU seal that certifies their quality and traditional character. To obtain this status, however, the products must be produced in a certain way. And this year's summer drought has stirred problems. 

Begoña García Bernal, a Regional Minister of Agriculture, Rural Development, Population and Territory in Extremadura, Spain, spoke to Euronews about how the heatwave has impacted her region. 

Extremadura is Spain's poorest region, but it does produce the world-famous jamón ibérico ham. 

Made from black Iberian pigs, the livestock feeds off acorns and oak groves. But the summer's weather has disrupted the feed, meaning farmers are struggling to produce the same quality consistently. 

Other regions with regional protected status are facing similar problems across Europe. And, In order to ensure the same guaranteed products, supermarket prices may have to increase to account for the more intensive production process.

 "It's important because the consumer doesn't want to pay more money for the product because of its relation with the biodiversity," Bernal says. The Regional Minister of Agriculture added, that prices should not go up because farmers apply "good practices in the fight against climate change. These products are being produced in a traditional way, that belongs to the rural areas," Bernal concluded.

The heatwave has not just effected regionally protected products. According to the JRC MARS Bulletin, a crop monitoring survey in Europe, its records for August show that the hot and dry weather has impacted produce significantly. Grain maize for instance is down 8.6%, sunflower production down 5.5% and soybeans down 9.6%.

Watch Begoña García Bernal's interview in the video above