The Spanish Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Luis Planas, said that the Government and the European Commission are monitoring the development of the citrus market, which is going through a "difficult" situation this campaign, and assured that "in due time," they will take whatever measures necessary.
"We will continue keeping an eye on the development of markets and imports together with the European Commission (EC), and in due time, the necessary decisions will be made," said the Minister to the press upon his arrival at a Council of European Ministers of Agriculture.
The Minister explained that the crisis in the citrus sector is due to "a series of factors," starting with a "record production" in Spain, with 7 million tons compared to the average of 6.6 in previous years.
It has also been "a late production due to the impact of the autumn rains," which, in turn, have had an impact on the fruit's sizes and quality characteristics. Furthermore "the mild autumn temperatures in the EU and other markets "have caused a drop in the consumption of citrus fruits, especially in the case of oranges."
The Spanish Government has also been following "data on imports from third countries with the EC's assistance." Another factor considered "very important" is the "non-functioning of the citrus interprofessional organization in Spain "and the low degree to which producers are organized, with only 34% of the production accounted for by organizations.
The combination of these factors has created "the situation we are in this year, which is a difficult one," said Planas, who explained that in order to try making things easier, the Ministry has introduced a 50,000 ton quota for the processing of oranges, mandarins, clementines and satsumas into juice.
"We have already been welcoming applications for three weeks, and of the 50,000 tons, only 10,000 have been used so far, so there is still room there and we plan to continue standing behind the sector," he said.
Planas was convinced that the citrus sector has a future, but warned that "it will need promotions and organized action." He assured that both the Government and the Autonomous Regions are willing "to work in that direction."