The 2018/19 citrus campaign in the Spanish Region of Valencia has been one of the worst in recent years, according to figures published by UNIÓ de Llauradors, which reveal a 32% drop in profits compared to the previous season.
The LA UNIÓ report shows that the income has fallen by 151 million Euro (40%) in the case of oranges, 114 million in the case of mandarins (30%) and 13 million in that of lemons (12%). While 874 million Euro were obtained from the sale of citrus fruits in the 2017-2018 campaign, this season the total has dropped to just 595 million Euro. The varieties with the highest losses have been the Lane Late orange, with 51 million, the Valencia Late orange, with 47 million, the Fino lemon, with 33 million, the Clemenules mandarin, with 28 million, the Navelina orange and the Ortanique mandarin, with 25 million Euro.
Almost 700,000 tons unmarketed
To these figures we must add the production that could not be marketed, and which according to the data provided by La UNIÓ amounts to almost 700,000 tons, from a total production of a little more than 4 million tons. This has been a result of the damages caused by torrential rains, of the production of non-commercial calibers and of the market saturation due to imports.
26% lower prices
The prices received by the producers have been on average 26% lower than those of the 2017-2018 campaign (30% in the case of mandarins and 39% in that of oranges). All citrus groups have suffered drops in the prices at origin. The biggest ones have been recorded by Valencia oranges, with a 56% drop; the Navel group, with 40%; hybrid mandarins (Clemenvilla and Ortanique), with 32% or the Clemenules, with 26%. The Ortanique is the one that reached the lowest average price of all, with 0.12 Euro / kg.
Agronomic and commercial circumstances
The lack of rainfall and the high summer temperatures led to the production of smaller sizes and to a delay of two weeks in the start of the harvest of the earliest varieties, which resulted in them overlapping with those of the second season. The autumn rains also caused great losses in some regions, both direct and quality losses.
Also worth noting this campaign has been the huge amount of fruit that arrived from countries in the southern hemisphere (mainly from South Africa) in the first part of the campaign, and from Egypt, Morocco or Tunisia at the end, which caused major distortions in the European market.
Proposals and measures
The proposals and measures from the Administrations to solve this crisis have been scarce, ineffective and backed with ridiculous budgets. The central government only granted government guarantees, which entails more debt, and the fruit withdrawal scheme was introduced late and poorly, and did not even meet the expected prospects, as only 57% of the volume initially planned to be withdrawn from the market was actually withdrawn in the end (28,000 tons from 50,000).
As regards the interception of quarantine pests in the EU, in 2018, 72% of them came from four countries (Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and South Africa), with the top three included in the Mercosur agreement that must be ratified, and the other one already with a beneficial agreement in force. 92% of the interceptions of dreaded pests like Phyllosticta citricarpa, which causes CBS or Guignardia, and 88% of those of Thaumatotibia leucotreta came from those countries.