Soaring prices make Ice a hot commodity in Spain

STORY: Ice has become a hot commodity in Spain, with bars running low on cubes.

Makers have been forced to hold back from producing their usual stockpiles due to soaring energy bills.

Ricardo Blasco owns one of Madrid's oldest such firms, Blasco Ice.

He said power bills have risen almost 50 to 60% since early this year.

He delayed the start of the factory's manufacturing year from March to May to try to offset the higher costs.

"Because of the war in Ukraine, electricity prices started to skyrocket and from that moment we were overwhelmed. That is the period during which we normally start to stock the ice (for the summer) and with those prices, the refrigeration chambers use started to translate into unsustainable prices."

Empty supermarket freezer shelves where bags of ice are kept are now a familiar sight across Spain.

It makes it difficult to find ice for cocktails and sangrias - popular with tourists who started returning to Spain in big numbers this year.

Mercedes Nieto owns a bar in central Madrid.

“I am affected because I have to be really careful. I even had to buy from local Chinese stores that obviously are more expensive that our regular official ice distributors. I had to look in supermarkets, everywhere because we can’t buy ice. If things continue like this we are going to find ourselves in problems to run a drinks bar.”

Some supermarkets have limited sales to five bags a day per person - and some only allow two.

With energy prices still on the rise, getting a cold drink could soon prove a challenge.

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