The Spanish clementine and mandarin campaign is underway with fewer clementines than usual, and soon the market will also see a significant drop in the supply of oranges. The lower prices of the small sizes, the most abundant this season, are having an impact on those of the more marketable fruit.
Hispalco started the citrus campaign about two weeks ago. "We started with the Oronules clementine variety in the European markets, and we did so with three of our most recognized brands: Monna Lisa® and Lady Godiva® in the extra category, and Hippie Chic® in the first class," said José Beltrán, manager and founder of Hispalco. "Next week, we plan to start with the Clemenules. We are supplying our traditional destinations, mainly the markets of Central Europe and some in the East."
At the end of summer, the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food announced another drop in the production this year and, due to the drought, an abundance of small sizes. "The Ministry's announcement is not just a forecast, it is a trend that has, in fact, been observed in the markets. The campaigns of sectors that depend on the weather are naturally not homogeneous. This year is not going to be a particularly fortunate one, as we have already been seeing in this first part of the campaign," said José Beltrán.
"Sharp drops have been recorded for varieties such as the Oronul. As a result of this, other varieties, such as the Clemenules, are being harvested earlier and sizes are small in both cases. However, Hispalco will start marketing the Clemenules under its brands almost a week later, so that they will be at their best in terms of flavor and quality," said the manager of the company.
"The problem with the small sizes is that they are cheaper than the large ones, and this affects also the other sizes. It becomes more difficult to sell at the right price, based on the quality of the product," he said.
Regarding the overall increase in food prices and its possible impact on consumption, Beltrán believes that "it all depends on the quality range you are working with and the supply available in the market. As a general rule, the lower the supply, the higher the price, and vice versa. The markets tend to demand that of which there is more scarcity, and consumption is also affected by price rises, although to a lower extent in the case of essential products, such as fruit and vegetables."
For the time being, Hispalco prefers to wait before marketing the first Navelina oranges. "We always act based on the campaign prospects; we are not usually the first to start them. Our policy is to avoid the risk of supplying Navelinas under our brands whose quality and flavor are not optimal. We aim for consumers of Monna Lisa®, Lady Godiva® or Hippie Chic® oranges to want to come back for more."
José Beltrán said that, apart from the fact that the lower production this year may encourage the search for alternatives in other countries, "the orange sector in Europe, and especially in Spain, is importing from third countries, even in excess. Perhaps it will be necessary to enforce greater controls over the phytosanitary quality of the products arriving from third countries, as well as to impose deadlines for imports. This would prevent citrus imports from overlapping with our exports and negatively affecting them. I have no doubt that our representatives are discussing this in Europe, but the outcome of the debate remains to be seen."