There are three products in which Murcia stands out from the rest of Spain: lemons, peppers and juice. The latter has been in great demand overseas this year. The manufacturers saw their exports between January and September increase by 26% after gaining ground on the EU market against US, Brazilian, Mexican, Costa Rican and Indian competitors.
Last summer (the period when the sector's sales peak) was almost dreamlike, with an increase of 152% in exports, breaking the monthly record. The secret? The added value, the continued supply to customers and the variety of Murcian products: nectars without added sugar and multifruit, organic, refrigerated and functional juices ('detox', 'antiox', 'energy', 'relax', etc.), as well as juices containing squeezed citrus fruit, with pulp, or made with tropical fruits.
199.2 million liters of juices and nectars were shipped abroad by Murcian companies during the first nine months of the year. This generated 212,268,870 Euro, 26.64% more than in the same period of 2017, according to the latest data from the Foreign Trade Institute (Icex). One out of every three Euro invoiced by the Spanish sector abroad goes to the Region, which is the largest exporter in Spain, followed by the Region of Valencia, Castile-La Mancha and Catalonia.
The increase recorded has been a result of a rise in the number of orders from France (40.1 million Euro between January and September, +17.1%), the United Kingdom (39.2 million, +74.6%), Portugal (23.4 million, +71.5%), Germany (10 million, +29.5%) and Poland (9.5 million, +253%).
This is good news, considering that the turnover of juices and nectars from Murcia in Europe plummeted by 38% between 2011 and 2015 as a result of the price war, the fall in the demand due to the recession and American competition. In 2016 and 2017 there was little growth, but during the first nine months of this year, exporters in the Region recorded a 37.2% increase in revenues in the EU, with 148.3 million Euro; more than in the entire previous year (139.6 million).
The EU market is a world leader in the purchase of juices and nectars, with a share of 25% of the total, according to Asozumos. This translated into a volume of 9,187 million liters in 2017, with a per capita consumption of 17.9 liters per person (17.4 in Spain). 36.5% of Europeans place orange juice as their favorite, followed by multi-fruit (19.2%) and apple (15.7%). 82.5% drink it in their homes. 60% of the juices are sold in tetrabrick; 31.5%, in plastic bottles and the rest in glass bottles.
The Murcian manufacturers are also obtaining good results in non-EU markets, with the US (12.3 million, +103%), Japan (8 million, +10.8%), China (6.2 million, +47.8%), Equatorial Guinea (5.3 million, +57.5%) and Saudi Arabia (4.9 million, +45%) as the main customers.
These are the results of an expansion effort made by the sector over the last five years to compensate for the decline in sales in Europe. In fact, importers from Egypt and Morocco are already placing orders this year.
The situation in Spain, however, is stagnant. The domestic market only absorbed 808 million liters of juices and nectars last year, which is 2.73% less than in the previous year. Before the recession, the figure far exceeded the 1,110 million liters. The country has dropped to fifth place in Europe, behind Germany (2,342 million liters), France (1,406), the United Kingdom (1,079) and Poland (820).
It is worth recalling that Murcian companies are the ones supplying large retailers such as El Corte Inglés, Hipercor, Carrefour, Alcampo, Eroski, Consum, Lidl, Dia, Aldi, Supersol and Ahorramás. Asozumos highlights that these account for 40% of the domestic demand.