The price increase that the fruit incurs from the field until it reaches final consumers has been widely debated in recent years. The agricultural activity's lack of profitability - which led the sector to protest in the streets last year- has put this problem in the spotlight.
Certain varieties of mandarins can cost almost € 7/kg in Central European supermarkets, i.e. up to 5 times more than the average values paid in Spanish stores. In addition, these prices are up to 20 times higher than what the fruit costs in the field.
According to the Lonja de Cítricos de València's bulletin of the third week of January, farmers are paid € 0.18 to € 0.28 per kilogram of the Navel variety, and 0.28 to € 0.35 per kilogram of the Lane Late variety. This contrasts with the € 2.80/kg paid by European consumers, a value that skyrockets to € 4.80/kg when these varieties are organic.
The greatest increase in values is observed in late protected mandarins (Tango, Nadorcott, and Orri), as they cost more than one euro per kilogram in the field and consumers pay € 6.85/kg for them.
Remuneration in the field
The producers' profitability does not reflect the high prices that European consumers pay for Spanish mandarins and oranges. Many producers are not paid enough to cover production costs, which are stand at € 0.23/kg for oranges and € 0.28/kg for mandarins, according to reports from the Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Agrarias (IVIA).
"We are no longer surprised to learn that citrus prices at the large distribution centers of central and northern Europe are five times than in Spanish supermarkets," stated the agrarian organization AVA-Asaja. This is a clear example of the serious imbalance of forces within the European food chain, where some links win a lot, while others, such as producers, lose, they added.
AVA-Asaja pleaded for reform of the Food Chain Law, which is being debated in the Congress of Deputies this week, and for improved mechanisms to achieve a better distribution of the benefits generated by agricultural products, especially perishables, along the value chain.