One of Spain's most traditional Christmas delicacies, turron, could be in short supply this year after a disastrous harvest for the key ingredient, almonds.
According to TUMA, the industry association which represents producers of turron and marzipan, said that the bad harvest could mean a shortage of the popular Christmas confectionery for the first time in its long history.
According to reports in the Spanish press, this year's almond harvest was the worst for 30 years, due mainly to very poor weather in the first quarter of the year which took a particular toll on the varieties of almond used to make turron and marzipan, marcona and largueta.
Unusually warm weather in January brought forward the flowering of almond trees by around 20 days, leaving the crop susceptible to frosts. Particularly cold temperatures in early March further retarded growth, while another cold spell at the end of the month inflicted further damage. Up to 90 per cent of the Spanish almond crop was destroyed by the poor weather.
According to Almendrave, the Spanish almond and hazelnut exporters' association, Spain is the world's second biggest producer of almonds (after the United States) with an average production of 75,000 tonnes of kernels. Production in Spain is concentrated in the autonomous regions of the Mediterranean coast: Catalonia, Valencias, the Balearic Islands (Mallorca), Andalusia and Aragon.
There are several varieties of turron, each with its own recipe, but the most popular varieties contain between 45 and 60 per cent almonds. Marzipan contains around 45 per cent.
What turron there is available this Christmas could also be very expensive, with the shortage already pushing up prices by around 10-20 per cent. For almonds used to make some of the highest quality turrones - those with protected denomination of origin status, for example - prices have risen by as much as 15-20 per cent compared to the previous year.
Indeed, for marcona almonds used to make Turron de Jijona y Alicante, one of the most prestigious varieties, the price has risen by more than 60 per cent compared to last year at €10 a kilo. PDO turron prices are expected to rise by at least 15-20 per cent as a result.
Other turron varieties, which are not covered by PDO regulations, are likely to be less badly affected, as they can use imported almonds, in particular from California, but prices for US varieties such as butte and non pareil have also risen, meaning that even the cheapest turron brand is likely to cost around 10 per cent more this year.