In the peak of the citrus season, the Valencian Association of Agricultural Producers (AVA-ASAJA) has detected an increasing number of breaches of contract by commercial operators in the sale of citrus fruits, mainly oranges and mandarins.
The most common abusive practice reported by AVA-ASAJA is that of businesses unilaterally lowering the price agreed with the producer at the beginning of the season, when the outlook was more optimistic due to the rise in the demand for citrus in Europe because of COVID-19. In some cases, producers claim that the new price offered for their fruits is even lower than the production costs (between 0.22 and 0.26 Euro per kilo, depending on the variety), which would lead to losses and cause even more fields to be abandoned.
Clemenules clementines and Navelina oranges are especially affected by the reduction of prices at origin. They have suffered the impact of the rains and are in an advanced state of maturity. The unrest caused by these cases has spread among the rest of citrus growers and is causing difficulties in the marketing.
The president of AVA-ASAJA, Cristóbal Aguado, recommends "staying strong when defending a worthy price, because we have a short harvest that will be even more so in the second half of the season." Aguado asked the Spanish Minister of Agriculture, Luis Planas, to “make an effort to ensure the new reform of the Food Chain Law really serves to guarantee that prices at least cover the production costs.” The agrarian leader also reproached "the European Union and the Spanish Government for continuing to promote trade agreements with third countries that open the doors wide to citrus grown under different phytosanitary, labor and environmental standards, as this results in unfair competition. This is currently the case with the imports from Egypt, Morocco or Tunisia.”
Complaints to the AICA
The agricultural organization has also detected other breaches of sales contracts that harm producers, such as the delay and even the cancellation of harvests, reports of an excessive amount of discards at the handling warehouses, or the non-payment of the harvests within the deadlines established by law.
For this reason, AVA-ASAJA has made its technical services available to producers, to advise and help them when reporting such infractions to the Food Information and Control Agency (AICA).
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