They are the most varied food group in the world. Vegetables are considered as vegetables or leaf plants that are eaten raw or cooked, green vegetables such as peas, tubers like potatoes and also fruit and flower productions such as pepper or zucchini.
Throughout history its cultivation has been very diversified under the tutelage of the human being, who has always tried to take advantage of the spontaneous mutations and to exacerbate the useful and usable characteristics of these plants.
The first vegetables that are known are garlic and onion, which were grown in Asia more than 7,000 years ago. Nowadays a great variety of vegetables of diverse origins (local, national, import, etc.) can be found in the market and with different presentations (fresh, frozen, dehydrated, canned, etc.). This diversification of supply will certainly expand in the coming years.
Thanks to the staggering of harvests it is possible to have in Spain a great variety of vegetables during practically all the year. This is the case, for example, with peppers, cucumbers, onions and tomatoes.
In the same field can be cultivated numerous vegetables, sometimes associated, sometimes following a rotation, or seasonal sequence. This allows farmers to plan supply and adapt with some ease to successive campaigns on demand. However, the demand is relatively stable and is usually adapted to seasonal supply, which is the one that provides vegetables at the best price.
Although the area dedicated to the cultivation of vegetables has been losing weight in Spanish agriculture, our country is still a world power in this type of productions. The decline in the cultivated area has been offset by an increase in productivity per hectare.
In Spain, about 340,000 hectares of vegetables (including melon, watermelon, strawberry and champignon) were cultivated in 2014, of which about 60% were irrigated land. Also, around 70% of the surface was cultivated outdoors and the rest greenhouses.
By crop, the tomato in its different versions (for fresh consumption, industry, etc.) is the one that occupies the most ground: in 2014 a total of 54,747 hectares, of which 21,129 were greenhouse. The lettuce, with 33,868 hectares, and the cauliflower-broccoli with 33,198, occupy the following positions in the list of more cultivated vegetables.
On the other hand, the national production of vegetables in the year 2014 surpassed the 14.3 million tons, between productions of stem and leaf (lettuce, cabbage, etc.), fruit (melon, watermelon, strawberry, etc.) (Artichoke and cauliflower), bulb and root (garlic, onion, etc.), legumes (beans, peas …) and other vegetables such as mushrooms and mushrooms that can not be classified but which have great economic importance in certain Regions.
Vegetable production in the EU is around 60 million tonnes per year. At the community level, the main crop is tomatoes with about 18 million tonnes per year, followed by cabbage, onions, carrots and lettuce.
The countries with the highest production in the EU are Italy (20% in 2014), Spain (19%) and France (9%).
Increased supply, seasonally adjusted and improved conservation techniques have improved The trade of vegetables between countries and others. Spain has become over the years a net exporter of this type of productions. In 2014, total exports (including potato and non-fruit-vegetables such as melon) increased in volume but not in value. Thus, the value of these sales amounted to 4,270 million euros, 1.4% less than in 2013, due to the negative evolution of the main vegetables exported. More specifically, exports Of tomatoes fell by 3% to 961 million euros, while lettuce fell by 3% to 551 million euros, and cucumber by 3.5% to 448 million euros.
On the other hand, vegetable exports increased by 7% in volume, reaching 5 million tonnes, some 400,000 tonnes more than in 2013, a year in which the volume of exports also increased by a similar amount.
In terms of imports, the volume purchased abroad increased slightly to 1.1 million tonnes, while the value of imports fell by 6% to 526 million euros, mainly due to the fall in purchases of Potato, which is counted as vegetable for these purposes. In this sense, the potato is, for years and with much difference, the product that we most import within this group.
Intra-Community trade annually moves about 7 million tonnes. In addition, the EU imports about 1.5 million tonnes of vegetables a year, which come mainly from African countries, with Morocco at the top, and the Middle East. Also from the EU, about one million Tonnes per year. Much of the European exports of vegetables are tomatoes and Spain is among the countries that sell the most outside.