The profitability crisis of the Spanish fruit sector has also taken its toll on kakis. The crop that seemed a profitable alternative to citrus in the Region of Valencia no longer offers the guarantees that it used to.
"The potential of kakis had been exaggerated," said José Ramón Pous, a producer from Algemesí. "Everyone thought it was going to be a gold mine. I have been growing kakis for about thirty years and in the past I have sold them for up to 120 pesetas per kilo (about 0.72 Euro), but their value has continued to fall little by little."
The producer denounces that the production costs have grown while the market value has dropped, forcing him to cut down three of his kaki fields. The abandonment of crops, while not yet a widespread trend, is increasingly seen as a desirable option by those who are fed up with losing money every season.
"This year I decided not to supply my kakis to any cooperative and I have tried to market the fruit on my own, but I have not managed to make a profit. I had 35,000 kilos and I have taken full care of them on my own, saving a lot in wages, but the kakis have still cost me 5,000 Euro out of pocket."
For David Juan, a cooperative producer from Algemesí, the result has not been better. "We have been paid between six and eight cents a kilo, which is less than what other cooperatives have received, although the rest are not doing better. In Carlet they are getting between seven and eight cents, and in Guadassuar they receive up to ten cents. In no case do the producers recover their costs."
Cirilo Arnandis, president for Fruits and Vegetables at Cooperativas Agro-alimentarias of Spain and the cooperative of l'Alcúdia, and Vicent Monzó, former president and partner of the Carlet cooperative, agree that this "is a very difficult campaign for all."
Monzó also blames the market saturation for the situation in the sector, since it is pushing prices down. "Planting many trees was easy, the difficult task now is to defend and promote all this. I won't deny that we really have a fabulous product on our hands, but more promotion is needed," he says. In his opinion, the key is now to join forces and form groups to promote kakis and bring them to more homes and new markets.