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"Spain: "A well-known PGI would prevent African oranges from reaching supermarkets shelves so easily"

The PGI "Cítricos Valencianos" (Valencian citrus) has existed since 1999. Valencian oranges do not have a PDO for purely technical criteria based on European regulations: PDO's only apply to specific products that are produced in very specific areas, such as the Kaki Ribera del Xúquer, rice or Valencia's tiger nuts. Citrus fruits, however, have many varieties and are grown in a "very broad" area.

The PGI "Cítricos Valencianos" has a Regulatory Board formed by 15 members of the Valencian citrus sector and certifies that the products (oranges, mandarins and lemons) have been grown in the Region of Valencia and meet the requirements of origin and quality.

It covers an area of ​​183,000 hectares in the regions of Alicante, Valencia and Castellon, although according to the latest report made public (2016), there are only 9,338 hectares registered. These figures make it the most important label for the country's citrus sector.

Representatives of the PGI "Cítricos Valencianos" stress that the seal does not just indicates an origin, but also guarantees "an excellent quality." They admit that there is still a lack of awareness and knowledge on the part of the consumer, although their work is currently more focused on the distributors.

Thanks to this commitment, the label has gone from being present in two supermarket chains to being in nine, including Masymas, Consum, PlusFrésc (in Lleida) or Spar (in Girona). They are unhappy about the fact that Mercadona, the leading Valencian chain, has not joined the campaign to be able to offer a cheaper product that does not meet the quality standards of the PGI.

The PGI points out that it is, in fact, in the foreign market where the brand enjoys the best reputation. They explain that the best quality citrus fruits go to the "very demanding" French market, where around 40% of the fruits are exported under the PGI label. Another 20% is shipped to Italy; 10% to Germany and 25% is distributed across Spain. The rest is exported in smaller quantities to countries such as Belgium or Switzerland.

Hèctor Molina, a young citrus producer from Vila-real (Plana Baixa, Castellon), points out that the lack of information about the PGI is deliberate, and blames it on the entire chain, from producers to traders and consumers. "With a well-known PGI, the oranges that come from Africa would not reach the supermarket shelves so easily. The interests of big businesses are behind this," he says.


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