José Antonio García is the representative of the Spanish Interprofessional Association of Lemon and Grapefruit, Ailimpo. The economist has been its director since its foundation in 1998, and chairs the citrus committee of Freshfel, a European lobby that brings together large companies involved in the production and marketing of fruit.
"We want to organize a world citrus congress in 2021 in Spain. The World Citrus Organization (WCO) is a tool we have and it would be foolish not to use it," says Garcia. “At the meeting of the monitoring committee of the citrus crisis on March 7, Minister Planas made a great point on the need for Spain to lead all initiatives and issues related to the citrus sector worldwide. The minister gave us the momentum we needed and we decided to promote the initiative of talking to our counterparts in other countries. This is how we started working on this idea, which we have presented at Fruit Attraction, and if things work out, agreements to formally establish the association worldwide will be adopted in February at Fruit Logistica, in Berlin. We are only adapting to citrus fruits what others have done successfully with other fruits, like avocados, pears and apples or kiwifruit.”
According to the director of Ailimpo, South Africa will undoubtedly play a leading role in the transformation of the citrus sector. Egypt will too, since its exports will become greater than Spain's in a few years. “Difficult times are ahead for all citrus fruits, including lemon and grapefruit, which have had six fantastic campaigns with extraordinary profitability, so the popularity of the crops is on the rise.”
To promote the consumption of Spanish citrus fruits, Ailimpo has launched a promotional campaign that has cost 6.5 million Euro, with 70% of this funded by Europe. “We are working on digitization issues. In January, we will launch the blockchain. Our work must focus on reducing costs, but also on differentiating ourselves, providing a customer service. We also need to open markets outside Europe, as more than 90% of our business is carried out in Europe and everyone wants to come to Europe to sell.”