The Canary Islands export ice to alleviate shortages on the peninsula

The Canary Islands remain oblivious to the lack of ice faced by the restaurant and food sectors on the peninsula. So much so that tons of this product leave daily from the Archipelago to fill the coffers of several supermarkets. Far from blaming all their ills on the heat, the pandemic and rising costs, energy in mind, island producers warn that the ice is the victim of problems that have dragged on for decades. “We sold the bag at 150 pesetas 30 years ago and today at 85 cents”, details the manager of the Canarian company Arucansa, Francisco Suárez.

This almost perpetual price suppression results in a “no profit”. This leads to a process of concentration to try to generate economies of scale guaranteeing survival above the break-even point. Arucansa itself is an example. Over the past twelve years, seven small businesses have joined this project led by Pedro García.

Living on the financial edge, plus the “300%” increase in energy expenditure, This, according to Suárez, has left several companies on the peninsula with the only option to “lower the lever”. The lack of margins has prevented them from healing the wounds inflicted by the health restrictions that the pandemic has forced to decree in key ice cream businesses such as the Horeca chain (hotels, restaurants and cafeterias). Now only the giants, those who accumulate the most muscle in their balances, have a secure future.

Growers claim supply is shrinking due to low prices


Last June was the fourth hottest since 1961 in mainland Spain, according to the National Meteorological Agency (Aemet). The early heat wave has already put ice seekers on notice. However, the more typical spring winds returned and the waters calmed down. It is now, with summer well established and with very high temperatures for weeks, that the iceberg, worthy of the icy comparison, has revealed its full dimension.

The restaurateurs make real assessments, but the ice is not a ground that gives guarantees not to slip, on the contrary. From exporting it to France or Italy, he moved on to the fact that the drinks have fewer cubes in certain bars. This is something that does not go unnoticed by much of the heated and thirsty clientele. And the worst part is that these shortcomings threaten to worsen if the heat wave continues.

The Canary Islands are not exempt from the problems caused by the very prolonged price captivity. The case would be settled if they amounted to assuming an increase “between five and ten cents” for the end customer, assures the manager of Arucansa. “I don’t see anyone hanging a barbecue because the ice cream costs a little more”, judgement. However, consumption is not affected by seasonality as is the case on the Peninsula, where production soars during the summer months.

Arucansa launched a new manufacturer this week in Tenerife


and There you go the apparent contradiction that it is one of the autonomous communities with the lowest rainfall rate the one that supplies – in small part – the rest of the state. “60% of the sales go to small local distributors, who are the ones who put the ice cream in the bars, and the remaining 40%, to the food”, explains Suárez. And its main customer, Mercadona to be exact, inquired about the possibility of Arucansa helping to cover some of the voids that were emptying in the frozen containers of its supermarkets.

Arucansa had planned to start a new ice machine – as it is known in the jargon – in Tenerife between October and the end of the year. He would join the three that operate 24/7. The investment has been advanced. Production went from 80 tons to 150 tons a day overnight.

Suarez knows it Exporting to the Peninsula is a circumstantial issue and that the really important thing is to solve the problem. “At least this crisis will serve to visualize the bottom of the case and to understand that we cannot have prices of the 90s”, he concludes.

15,000 bags per day

The entry into service this week of the first ice cream machine in Tenerife has enabled Arucansa to send 40 tons of ice to the Peninsula every day, which amounts to the same thing, “around 15,000 bags”, according to the manager of the company from Gran Canaria, François Suarez. Currently, “between 30% and 40%”, he adds, of the production is placed in freezers that go to mainland Spain by sea. An injection of income which will be used to “pay a little, not more”. Transport increases costs, so the operation can only be understood as a detail with the end customer by supermarkets. | JGH

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