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Citrus from third countries and abusive royalties blamed for it

Spain: Citrus prices fall by an average of 23% compared to last season

The Unió de Llauradors (Growers' Association) has carried out a study quantifying the losses of the first part of the citrus campaign, which they estimate at 130 million Euro. 65% of this figure ​​(85 million) is blamed on an anomalous market situation caused by the massive presence of fruit from third countries, such as South Africa (and others), on the shelves of European supermarkets up until mid-November.

"Thousands of tons of our mandarins, especially Satsumas and clementines, have been left unharvested this campaign, since they have been pushed from a saturated European market by the citrus fruits from third countries such as South Africa. The prices of our citrus have dropped by an average of 23% compared to the same dates of the previous season."

According to LA UNIÓ, its study shows that, although the impact of the rains has been clear and significant (35% of the losses, 45 million have been caused by them), they are not the most important factor.

Given this situation, a meeting was convened by the Council of Agriculture in order to analyze the situation and allow the organization to make proposals for the future, and not specific for this campaign. These proposals are directed at Regional, Spanish and European institutions, because "the situation is serious and will require the support of all of them."

The list of measures includes the renegotiation of the Agreement with the countries of Southern Africa with regard to citrus imports, and as long as this does not occur, the enforcement of the safeguard clause. Moreover, La Unió has asked for European phytosanitary and labor regulations to also apply to the agricultural productions from third countries, as well as the implementation of cold treatment to all citrus fruits from third countries with quarantine pests. In order to transfer these demands to the European institutions, they will ask Valencia's regional government to hire staff in Brussels so that, in coordination with the most representative Valencian agricultural organizations, they can act as a permanent lobby for international trade.

The organization has also proposed a restructuring of the citrus sector. The idea is to set "limits on abusive royalties and not grant public aid to companies that import or market citrus from third countries when there is enough local production to meet the market's needs."

To these measures we must add others that are also frequently requested, such as the reduction of tax modules and Social Security contributions, exemption from the IBI or the opening of credit lines. The Valencian government is apparently already willing to request these from the central Government.

La Unió will also request a new citrus restructuring plan, but linked to a limitation on the price of royalties, in case that the planted varieties are protected. Regarding the withdrawal of citrus from the market, the organization considers this a good measure, but as long as it is planned in a timely manner. "Furthermore, withdrawals are not so much a tool for direct compensation to citrus growers, but one of market structuring and citrus growers seldom get anything. We have already seen this, for example, with the Russian veto." This and other measures established by EU regulations could have been managed through the citrus interprofessional Intercitrus, but this has unfortunately remained inoperative."

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