The Iberian Peninsula is a major import market for tree nuts and the United States is the primary supplier of tree nuts to both Spain and Portugal. In Spain, domestic consumption of tree nuts is increasing due largely to their use in the confection industry as well as expanding domestic consumption resulting from higher household incomes and increased awareness of the health benefits of tree nuts.
The European Commission implemented special inspection measures (European Commission Decision 2007/563/EC) for aflatoxin in almond shipments beginning with U.S. shipments exported on or after September 1, 2007. The California almond producers agreed to an at-origin voluntary aflatoxin testing plan, resulting in a decline in shipment rejections by Spanish authorities.
The U.S. share of the Spanish almond market is expected to remain unchanged at about 90 percent. Spain is a major processing and distribution center for California almonds in Europe. U.S. walnuts, both shelled and in-shell, are also making importing inroads in the Iberian market.
Grain and Oilseeds
U.S. exports of grains and oilseeds into the Iberian Peninsula led the commodities which pushed agricultural trade with Spain and Portugal to record values in FY 2008. U.S. sorghum took advantage of the volatile situation in the Spanish and Portuguese feed market as its competitive price resulted in sorghum becoming a major feed ingredient for the first time. While Spain’s grain and feed imports are highly price sensitive, an expanding market indicates good future prospects in the sector if competitively priced.
Domestic consumption of pulses is high in the Iberian Peninsula market, particularly for dry edible beans, which are an important component of the Spanish and Portuguese diets. Iberian companies also process and re-export dry edible beans within the EU market.
The Iberian Peninsula total catch continues to decline as a result of lower fish stocks and catch limits in both EU and non-EU waters. However, aquaculture production continues to expand to meet demand.
Due to the weaker dollar vis-à-vis the Euro, U.S. seafood products will likely continue to be very competitive in the Iberian Peninsula market. Lobster, surimi (fish paste), cod, albacore tuna and hake are among the top sellers.
Post forecasts lower demand in 2008 for forest products in the Iberian Peninsula market, both for total and U.S. imports.
The Iberian furniture sector, as well as the residential construction components sector, has been strong, resulting in high import demand for forest products. However, the Iberian real estate market is now in crisis, particularly in Spain where the ten-year building boom is now in recession. House sales have dropped nearly 30 percent during the first nine months of 2008. As a result, we expect a further decline in U.S. hardwood lumber exports for 2009.