LA UNIÓ de Llauradors has announced that the current citrus campaign is yielding disastrous results, with average prices at origin (taking into account the official prices of the Council of Agriculture) that are almost 30% lower than those of the same period of the previous campaign.
While lower prices were already recorded at the start of the season, with early clementines, for example, costing 33% less than in the same period of the previous campaign, things have been getting worse as the weeks have passed for the rest of varieties. The average decrease, taking all varieties into account, has reached 27%, and if we look just at the two predominant varieties, we observe how the price of Clemenules mandarins has fallen by 33% and that of Navelina oranges by 20%. To this price drop, we must add a 10% increase in production costs as a result of the drought.
The lack of buying and selling by stores is widespread in practically all the regions and there is still a lot of fruit hanging in the trees; only cooperatives are harvesting at a normal rate. Numerous citrus growers have told LA UNIÓ about their despair when thinking about how their fruits could fall to the ground if not harvested within a reasonable period of time, "which could lead them to accept any offer, even if the conditions are disadvantageous."
Given this situation, the citrus sector of LA UNIÓ is considering the organisation of protests. In fact, a protest was already held last Wednesday together with its Catalan counterpart (the Unió de Pagesos) before the Representation Office of the European Commission in Barcelona against the agreement between the EU and South Africa.
LA UNIÓ will inform the Food Information and Control Agency (AICA) of the Ministry of Agriculture about all illegal practices detected in the field, as well as about the abusive practices carried out by large distributors. In fact, LA UNIÓ has already conducted checks in two shopping centres and found prices that could violate the Food Chain regulations, consequently reporting it to the AICA and the General Trade and Consumption Directorate of the government of the Region of Valencia.
One of this is a bargain price at Alcampo coinciding with Black Friday, with 5 kilos of oranges costing just 1.99 Euro (0.40 €/kg) and a kilo of mandarins sold for 0.59 Euro/kg. The other retailer is Carrefour, where four kilograms of oranges are given away for free to customers making purchases worth over 40 Euro between 18 and 27 November. These are just two examples of promotions carried out by large supermarkets at the expense of the producers. LA UNIÓ is not against bargain prices, as long as the margins are covered by the distribution chains and not by paying growers a lower price. The use of citrus as a way for these chains to make a greater profit from other products cannot be done at the expense of the work and effort of the producers.
This negative situation has also been observed in other producing regions, and therefore, a meeting of all organizations nationwide, belonging to the Union of Unions, has been planned for next week, where they will study the actions that may be undertaken.
LA UNIÓ pointed out that the Spanish Government has not been able to defend the interests of Spanish citrus growers in Europe, as revealed by the recent agreement with South Africa, nor has it been capable of enforcing the current Food Chain regulations.
For more information:
Carles Peris, Head of the citrus sector
Tel. +34 658 92 89 23