With almost half a million tons (t) exported (499,291), the Spanish citrus sector achieved the best March results ever. What's more, the rise in the demand motivated by the concerns over COVID-19, as well as the interest of Europeans in supplying themselves with fruit with which to strengthen their immune system, led to a turnaround of the campaign.
Even though the domestic harvest was almost 24% lower and despite the significant drop in overseas trade, the volume exported so far until that date has been similar to that of the previous season (2.86 million tonnes). In the absence of official statistics, the Citrus Management Committee (CGC) believes that this growth rate will have continued in April. "The Government recognized the sector as an essential activity. An extraordinary effort was required from us to rise up to the challenge and overcome the huge difficulties we faced, but it is clear that we succeeded," said CGC Director General Inmaculada Sanfeliu.
Although it is still too early to take stock of the campaign, this year's harvest season will likely end between a month and a month and a half earlier than last year. With the figures available so far, it can already be said that orange shipments in March, which totaled 276,701 t, were the second largest ever recorded in that month (only behind 2015, when 287,900 t were shipped). As for mandarins, sales abroad have increased by 7%, even though they had been 25% lower than in the previous one up to that point in the campaign.
It is worth noting that all this has been achieved in a short season in terms of the expected harvest, with a 23.9% reduction of citrus in general compared to the 2018/19 season (22.4% in oranges and 28.9% in mandarins). Moreover, it has been achieved despite the collapse of sales in important destinations outside the EU, such as the US (due to the tariffs imposed) or China (due to the outbreak of the health crisis). "In times of extreme difficulty, the Spanish sector has once again shown that it is the most reliable European supplier, with the most stable and high quality standards," says Sanfeliu.