AFTER years of dwindling profits, Almeria almonds are receiving the highest prices ever known.
Peeled almonds are fetching between €9 and €10 a kilo and even the unshelled nuts are paid at up to €4 a kilo, compared to 80 cents a few years ago. A bad harvest for mega-producer California plus increased demand from India and China have helped prices to soar.
So too has the drought that has assailed the province, cutting 2014’s crop by 70 per cent and this year’s by 50 per cent. The only problem now, said Francisca Iglesias, provincial secretary of the UPA agricultural union is the risk of an ‘almond bubble’ as growers plant more trees, creating a situation where there is over-production.
There is also the additional danger of robbery. Thieves are stealing directly from the groves, using the laborious and time-consuming method of placing canvas or a blanket underneath the tree, beating the branches and collecting the fallen almonds. Filled sacks ready for collection and storage are regarded as an open invitation and as a Lubrin grower said: “Almonds are prized plunder these days.”