The 2013/2014 citrus campaign started in September with the Iwasati, an early mandarin variety which is becoming increasingly more difficult to export to the European markets. Only Scandinavia is absorbing large volumes of it, and thus many are considering abandoning the crop. Additionally, "Europe does not demand the citrus volumes we can supply in September," explains Alejandro Peiró, Commercial Director of the Valencian company Peiró Camaró, "and to top it off, there is an increasing supply of varieties, like the Nadorcott, from countries in the Southern Hemisphere, which are then at their peak in quality."
This week, Peiró Camaró is starting the harvest of the Clemenules clementine; Valencia's most popular easy peeler citrus variety. Temperatures are starting to drop at night, allowing the ripening process to continue. Meanwhile, the firm supplies Oronules clementines and Naveline oranges, both presenting some problems regarding their outer appearance as a result of the unusually hot weather in late October.
"The problem we have with Navelines is that their colour is rather pale due to the excessive heat, although their sugar content is ideal. Clementine calibres have also dropped in size. The beginning of the campaign has been complicated, not only because of the prices we had to pay to growers, but also due to the difficulty in selling these calibres," he explains. "Prospects point to smaller calibres for clementines, mandarins and oranges during the entire year."
Nevertheless, calibres have not only been affected in Spain but also in Morocco, its main competitor, (especially for clementines) will supply large volumes of fruit of even smaller calibres, something which, according to Alejandro Peiró, will lead to lower prices for Moroccan citrus, which will make competition with Spain in Eastern Europe much more difficult.
Citrus consumption is a falling trend
Furthermore, Alejandro points out that citrus consumption and demand this year continues to be a falling trend, not just because cold temperatures which are crucial to motivate consumption, seem to take longer and longer to arrive, but also due to the greater supply of other fruits, like kakis, which have managed to take a significant share of the market as an alternative to citrus. "Consumers have now a wider choice of products and due to the financial crisis, they have less spending power; something which is also starting to affect consumers in Central and Northern Europe."
With Germany, Austria and Switzerland as its most important markets, Peiró Camaró makes the difference by offering a truly personalised packaging service, using a wide range of packaging formats, from nets, trays and wooden, cardboard and plastic boxes, to Girsak, D-Pack and Green Boxes, bearing its most recognised brand, MEINE SÜSSE, used mostly in Germany, and other brands like PEICA or BONJOUR.