Climate change threatens prized jamón ibérico from Spain

Climate change threatens prized jamón ibérico from Spain. Photo by Sweet-marshmallow

An increase in temperatures and low rate of rainfall has affected the production of acorns, resulting in threatening the production of jamón ibérico in Spain

The world-famous jamón ibérico bellota from Spain is the most recent addition to the list of commodities affected by climate change, as rising temperatures and low rainfall has resulted in oak trees producing fewer acorns.  

As these acorns are a key ingredient for the pig’s diet, producers of the jamón ibérico are now facing a major challenge. 

Retailing upwards of  €100 (£88) per kilo, the jamón ibérico is produced exclusively from blackfoot pigs that spend the last months of their life feeding on these acorns, locally known as bellotas.  

But the change in temperatures, resulting in unusually hot and dry summers, has now affected their production in the oak forests of west and northwest Spain, where these pigs are raised. 

According to recent estimates by the Guardian, this resulted in reducing the production of the jamón ibérico from Extremadura by over 20 percent in 2022.

Extremadura is one of only four regions in Spain that hold the official ‘denominación de origen’ for producing the jamón ibérico.

As per Francisco Espárrago, the president of Señorio de Montanera, who produces top quality jamón from the region, “The trees struggle to survive the long, hot and dry summers we’re having now.”

He added that the forest where these pigs are raised is “made up of holm oaks that are native to damp climates so it’s a relic of when the climate here was different from now”.  

Espárrago also expressed his disappointment for 2023 as he said, “having survived the drought of last summer and a winter with little rain, (this year) will be worst in the 40 years I’ve been working”.  

The production of Spain´s jamón takes place in some of the poorest regions of the country and plays a vital role in the local economies of these regions by providing thousands of jobs in areas.

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Written by

Imran Khan