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Spain ice cube shortage is red-hot issue for parched holidaymakers amid heatwave

Wales Online logo Wales Online 05/08/2022 Brett Gibbons
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Parched holidaymakers in Spain are facing an ice shortage for their drinks with bars and supermarkets reporting a crisis blamed on energy costs and blowtorch temperatures topping 40C. The demand for ice is at a record high during the peak holiday months but it is in short supply.

Ice has become a hot commodity in many tourist resorts, with supermarkets limiting how much people can buy and bars running low on cubes for sangrias and cocktails owing to a long-running heatwave and surging energy prices. Some establishments have even limited the number of ice cubes in each drink.

Ice is normally stockpiled during the winter months but production was put on hold because of soaring power bills and uncertainty about summertime demand following the Covid pandemic. But tourism has bounced back to coincide with one of Spain's hottest summers on record, with a third successive heatwave likely to be declared this week, according to local media.

Ricardo Blasco, the owner of one of Madrid's oldest ice manufacturers, Blasco Ice, said his power bills have risen 50-60 per cent 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 is unable increase production further. Snr Blasco says the worry of letting down clients who are ringing daily to seek more is keeping him awake at night.

He added: "It's hard not being able to satisfy everyone even if you want to. We really are doing everything we can."

Empty supermarket freezer shelves where bags of ice should be are now common across Spain, with consumers turning to petrol stations and smaller corner shops to find supplies. Bar owner Mercedes Nieto said when her usual distributor ran out of ice she sought more from a local store which had raised prices, and also supermarkets, but they had run out.

She said: "If this carries on, we are going to have real problem."

Supermarkets, including Spain's biggest retailer Mercadona, have 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 claimed.

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