This year's orange campaign is starting with some delays in Seville as a result of the many months of drought that the province had to endure, and which have left an inevitable mark on this year's harvest. "The quality of the first orange, the Navelina, is not great, at least in the area where I work," said Jesús Paniagua. "The fruit has an elongated shape and a rough skin, so it's not visually appealing. As for the late ones, there is a lower amount, but their appearance seems somewhat better."
"Still, even though very little is being harvested because the season is already late and the rains have also prevented it, there is a very good demand, as fewer imports are arriving from countries such as South Africa or Uruguay, and they have done so at very high prices. This first Spanish fruit has been very well-received, but we will have to see how the market accepts the quality once everyone starts harvesting."
"At the moment, prices are quite good," says Jesús. "At origin and also at the warehouse, where prices are reaching unprecedented levels. Supermarket nets are currently oscillating between 85 cents and 1.10 Euro per kilo, and we intend to maintain this price level throughout the month of November. The prices of the best quality oranges range between 1.10 and 1.40 Euro per kilo at the warehouse, and even the juicing industry is paying 32 cents per kilo."
These are very high prices that contrast sharply with the ones recorded four or five campaigns ago, "when nets were sold for 40-45 cents, and you were left with 5-6 cents, after taking costs into account. That price wasn't normal," said Jesús Paniagua. "Prices today have had to rise because costs have skyrocketed; labor, materials, transport... Just two years ago, shipping fruit by truck from Seville to Italy, the main market where I work, cost 2,400 Euro, and we are currently paying 3,800."
"In Italy, in particular, this year they have better quality than in Spain, but they do not have a large production of early oranges -they are specialists in the Taroco, which arrives in January-, so there is a great interest in Spanish fruit, both for oranges and clementines," he said.
"The clementine campaign is also starting quite late because the heat prevented the fruit from acquiring the right color and size. In fact, only between 20 and 30% of the volume of a normal year has been harvested so far. Also, most of the clementines are grown in Castellon which was hit by hail, so this season will also be determined by that."
The prices of good-sized clementines, as well as oranges, have been reaching high levels, "although there is also plenty of small-sized fruit that is being sold with some difficulty. Overall, I expect this to be a very good year for quality citrus. The question is how the markets will react when all the standard fruit starts to be shipped, because there will be a lot of it."
"For now, we think that working with Egyptian fruit will be unavoidable. The supermarkets themselves are going to demand it, because the quality we are seeing in Spain at the moment is causing some concerns. And we must also take another overarching factor into account," says Jesús. "Due to the wars, Egypt has lost access to some markets, so inevitably, more oranges will be shipped to Europe."
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