Not much has changed in the current citrus season compared to a few weeks ago, when ASAJA denounced the low prices paid for oranges, mandarins and lemons in the province of Almeria. In fact, the problem has taken a toll in all Andalusian production areas.
The early campaign has been terrible in terms of prices, but the New Year has not brought relief to the producers. "For weeks, we have been seeing orange prices fall as low as 15 cents, which is a real disaster," says Diego Castaño, head of citrus at ASAJA-Almeria. December came to a close with oranges costing an average of just 19 cents, and in these first weeks of 2019, the price has dropped even below the 15 cents for some varieties, which puts it 20% below last year's price.
The situation isn't better for mandarins or lemons, which also show declines in the prices at origin since the campaign started.
The delay of the campaign, the overlap with the productions from third countries, especially with the oranges from South Africa, and the problems in the logistics due to the protests in France have all taken a toll on the operations. The producers remain concerned, because their fruit will also have to compete with that of countries like Turkey and Egypt, where a record harvest is expected.
At this time, the Ministry has authorized the withdrawal of 50,000 tons of oranges and mandarins from the market, which will go to charities or be used for processing into juice; however, this measure is insufficient, since only 34% of the oranges produced go through Producer Organizations. For its part, ASAJA believes that it is necessary to introduce measures to control the arrival of fruit from South Africa, and also to carry out a specific plan for the citrus sector.