Heatwaves and high energy prices leave Spain on thin ice

A machine dispenses ice cubes at ice factory in San Fernando de Henares, Spain, August 4, 2022. REUTERS/Juan Medina

MADRID, Aug 4 – Ice is a hot commodity in Spain, with supermarkets limiting how much people can buy and bars running low on cubes for sangrias and cocktails due to scorching heatwaves and high energy prices.

At the start of the year, ice makers held back from producing their usual stockpiles because of soaring power bills and uncertainty about summertime demand following the COVID pandemic.

Heatwaves and high energy prices leave Spain on thin ice

But tourism has bounced back to coincide with one of Spain’s hottest summers, with a third successive heatwave likely to be declared this week.

The sizzling temperatures and the resurgence of socialising in cities and villages across the country means ice is in high demand.

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Ricardo Blasco, the owner of one of Madrid’s oldest ice manufacturers, Blasco Ice, said his power bills have risen 50% – 60% since early this year, and he had delayed the start of production from March to May to partly offset increased costs.

His factory runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but cannot increase production further. Blasco says the worry of letting down clients ringing daily to seek more keeps him awake at night.

“It’s hard not being able to satisfy everyone even if you want to,” he said. “We really are doing everything we can.”
Empty supermarket freezer shelves where bags of ice should be are ordinary across Spain, with consumers turning to petrol stations and smaller corner shops to find supplies.

Mercedes Nieto, the owner of a bar in Madrid’s trendy Chueca neighbourhood, said when her usual distributor ran out of ice, she sought more from a local Chinese store which had raised prices and supermarkets, but they had run out.

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“If this carries on, we are going to have real problems keeping open a cool drinks store,” she told Reuters as she mixed mojitos.
Some supermarkets, including Spain’s biggest retailer.

Mercadona has limited sales to five bags per person. Another chain, Consum, only allows two. “The increased demand due to the high temperatures is leading to hoarding,” a Mercadona spokesperson said.

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