The president of the Spanish Citrus Interprofessional (Intercitrus), Rafael Cervera, assures that this year's orange and mandarin campaign "won't last until April," since only 550,000 tonnes remain to be harvested, although producers have been getting better prices.
"This season, the weather has been favourable and not as much fruit has been discarded, as the quality is quite high." He explains that of the total volume left to be harvested, 300,000 tonnes are oranges and 250,000 tonnes are mandarins."
According to Cervera, in the 2016/17 season, rains had a negative impact on 650,000 tonnes of clementines and satsumas.
Fewer oranges and mandarins, but at a better price
The data handled by the Interprofessional for this campaign foresee that the orange production will fall by 12%, down to 3.35 million tonnes, and that the mandarin production will reach 2.1 million tonnes, which entails a 20% fall.
Given the drop in volume and the fruit's good quality, the juice and concentrates industry, which usually buys up to 20% of the production (between 600,000 and one million tonnes), "will not get more than 750,000 tonnes this campaign," and will have to be supplied by other markets.
The president of Intercitrus points out that, to date, the fruit's prices at origin have been between 8 and 10% more expensive than last season.
The orange sector fears for the conditions of the future EU-Mercosur agreement
Cervera adds the "Xylella" or the conditions of a future EU-Mercosur agreement to the already known threats to the sector; that is, the Black Spot (Phyllosticta citricarpa) detected in South African oranges or the Greening disease (Huanglongbing) found in ornamental citrus fruits of Galicia and Portugal.
In any case, the president of the orange and mandarin interprofessional, relaunched by the sector last January, after a period of eight years in which it ceased to be operative, considers the varietal reconversion of the production to be a great success, as it has been possible to extend the campaign and make it last for up to eight months.
"We are changing the productivity model and are getting better prices in fewer hectares, and without losing volume," says Cervera, who is also general secretary of UPA in the Region of Valencia.