Spanish exporters accuse European chains of mixing Spanish and Egyptian citrus

Valencian citrus exporters have discovered unfair trade practices at stores of various European supermarket chains. It is a form of fraud that damages the interests of Spanish orange growers.

Allegedly, Egyptian oranges are mixed in bulk with oranges from Spain, while the whole is presented as fruit of Egyptian origin.

The mixing of the oranges is clearly intended to make them look better, so that consumers find them more attractive and can be persuaded to buy them.

Spanish oranges have a more attractive appearance, are better sorted, have a more intense coloring and, additionally, have a better taste (with a more suited sweet-and-sour balance and a taste that many people appreciate).

These characteristics have allowed Spanish citrus to prevail in Europe for over a century and a half, with Spain still leading the worldwide export of fresh citrus, despite all the setbacks it has had to overcome (and continues to face).

This raises the question: why is the sale of quality Spanish oranges and mandarins not preferable to it being mixed with Egyptian oranges? The explanation is simple: the supermarket chain can buy the citrus from Egypt at a cheaper price, because the production costs are not as high as in Spain and Europe. However, the supermarket also knows that the fruit sells better if it looks more attractive. Thus, the easiest 'solution' is to mix it.

How can this be detected? When buying in bulk, if the mandatory sign indicating the variety, category and origin of the fruit states that the citrus comes from Spain, there should be no reason to doubt, especially if you see that the fruit has the right appearance. However, if the sign says that the oranges are from Egypt (or another country) and you find Navelina oranges in the pile (which have a more intense, almost red color) mixed with oranges with a paler color, and you know that the Spanish trader has recently shipped Navelina oranges to this supermarket, then it is obvious that there has been mixing at play.

In any case, these are fraudulent practices that must be punished according to the regulations, even though it is difficult to prove in many cases. Why don't the people affected formally denounce it? Because they are not sure about how useful this will be and are afraid that it will lead to them not receiving any more orders.


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