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"Spain: "Traditional customers guarantee the profitability of Castellon's citrus"

The traditional markets, that is, the European ones, have compensated for the fall in the export of Castellon's oranges to the United States. Jorge García, president of the provincial association of exporters (Asociex), acknowledges that these usual destinations are "the ones that work best, since all-time customers always guarantee the profitability of exports, mainly in the case of clementines." However, opening a new market always entails a certain degree of uncertainty, "and they don't offer high enough prices for the risk to be worth it," points out García.

The fact is that with markets with their borders closed, like Russia, and given the difficulty of shipping to South East Asia, which essentially demands oranges and not clementines, which arrive more deteriorated, and considering the fierce competition from other producing areas in markets such as Canada or Sweden, Europe remains the niche that has absorbed the drop in exports to the United States.

Not surprisingly, the first shipment departing to Philadelphia this week has been loaded with clementines. The Green Italia is travelling with about 2,300 tonnes of fruit in its hold. With the question of how many ships will accompany it (the figure will vary from six to nine), Jorge Garcia believes that the drop in exports to the US "has hit rock bottom." Thus, depending on the number of ships, the figure will be higher or lower than the 17,000 tonnes shipped last season.

In any case, this is very far from the 76,900 tonnes that were reached in the 2006/2007 campaign. The US rejection of the early clementine variety Marisol (this year, besides from clemenules, only arrufatins will be loaded) and the growth of the clementine production in California, as well as competition from countries like Morocco, has motivated this decline.

Thus, it is becoming increasingly difficult for the province's firms to fill "the gap left," states García, although this year the negative trend may come to a halt.


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