"So far, the clementine season has been very tough. Consumption is not at the expected level at all," says Xavier Rosario, commercial director of Louis Rosario Sarl in Perpignan. "At the beginning of the season, the sales of the Clémenruby variety were relatively good, but this is no longer the case right now. It seems that the growing uncertainty linked to Covid-19 is related to the drop in the demand."
The low consumption is quite surprising, since during the lockdown this spring, there was a great demand for the entire range of citrus fruits, especially oranges. "Producers started the season with great optimism. They were expecting a very high demand again. However, this has not happened; the demand is still very low."
There are still large stocks of clementines in Spain. "The Nules variety will arrive in a week. More tons are expected than last year, so everyone is trying to dispose of current stocks before the Nules arrives and prices drop. Despite the reduction in prices, the consumption levels remain low."
In a normal season, apples compete directly with citrus fruits. "When they are not expensive, people tend to buy more apples than citrus. But since there are fewer apples in France this year, they should be more expensive than usual. This year we cannot say that the lack of citrus consumption is caused by apples." Xavier says that citrus fruits are not the only product affected by this lack of consumption. "All of our fruits, including kakis, for example, have been affected."
Lower demand for the clementines with leaves
In recent years, Louis Rosario SARL had been selling more and more clementines with leaves. "What is truly paradoxical is that compared to previous years, this year the demand is 80% focused on the leafless clementine. Everyone is complaining. The great prospects this summer made prices rise. I think prices were too high compared to last year."