Manuel Peris, of Agribio Terra Organic:

"We now grow organic citrus while guaranteeing total protection of the soil as a living entity"

Although the ripening of citrus has been delayed for longer than usual in Spain, the campaign is currently underway with good volumes for the company Agribio Terra Organic, which is specialized in organic citrus. 

"We've had a difficult start this season due to three fundamental factors which have slowed down commercial movements at the beginning of the campaign. On the one hand, there has been a slight delay in the ripening, combined with a greater supply from the southern hemisphere in Europe due to delays in the logistics. On the other hand, the current restrictions imposed because of COVID are not facilitating sales at destination," says Manuel Peris, Agribio's sales manager. 

"Besides, we have to highlight the high quality with which we have started the campaign, largely a result of the good environmental conditions, which have allowed us to start with a product of excellent flavor and with a more intense color than in previous campaigns," he says.

Meanwhile, the escalation of new waves of COVID-19 cases in Europe is a cause for concern. "After a somewhat complicated start, prospects for the rest of the season are threatened by the possibility of lockdowns in central and northern European countries such as Germany, France and Austria, where our main markets are located. If the food service channel is again subject to restrictions, it will have an impact on sales in the wholesale markets, especially for products such as lemons and oranges. For the time being, the increase in coronavirus infections is not reflected in any clear consumption patterns. There has been no notable upturn, unlike what happened in the first wave," says Manuel Peris.

The Spanish company, based in Valencia, is specialized in the production and marketing of organic fruit and vegetables, with citrus as the main pillar of its business. Its production areas are spread between the regions of Andalusia, the Region of Murcia, the Region of Valencia and Catalonia. Oranges, lemons, clementines, mandarins, limes and organic grapefruit are produced there. This allows the Spanish organic citrus campaign to be extended for as long as possible, which "makes it possible for us to supply the different varieties to our customers for a longer period of time. We always harvest these products when they reach the optimum point of ripeness," says Manuel Peris.

Spanish citrus is facing increasing competition from third countries such as Morocco, Egypt or Turkey, although the impact on the organic production isn't as great. "Spain is a key player in terms of volume when it comes to the production of organic citrus in Europe, where we compete more with our neighbors from Italy and Greece. Outside Europe, more and more organic citrus is being produced. However, we provide an excellent proximity service. We can guarantee that, after the harvest, the fresh fruit will reach the customer in just 2 or 3 days. Currently, the market is managing to absorb what is being produced and we remain competitive despite the lower production costs."

This season, Agribio aims to continue working to adapt to market demands and will be devoted mostly to projects focused on sustainable production through Bureau Veritas, such as the recently launched Growing for Life seal. The latter is based on four essential pillars: optimization of ecosystems, biological crop management, collective intelligence and techno-economic efficiency, since it must also be profitable for the producer.

"This project was born in France and we originally certified it for this market as Les Acteurs du Vivant, which in French means 'the actors of the living', although we also decided to make it more international for other markets under the name Growing for Life," says Manuel Peris. 

"This seal focuses on the health of the soil (the medium from which the products come), and the aim is to preserve its condition. The project also aims to tackle global warming, as it is well known that agriculture generates a lot of CO2 emissions, as well as to foster respect for living beings in the environment and optimize the use of water. Since we implemented this form of production, we have been able to save up to 25% of water. As a result, we have achieved richer soils, which helps in capturing more carbon," says Manuel Peris. "It is important that we can guarantee producers good returns by investing in renewable energies."

According to Agribio's commercial manager, the clients have insight on the production methods implemented under the Growing for Life seal. "Depending on the country, it will generate a great deal of interest among consumers. France is a country that is sensitive to responsible production. The big chains are already creating retail brands with similar initiatives, so it is in line with the current market trends. Labels such as Growing for Life certainly allow us to differentiate ourselves from the competition and offer a product with added value to the organic market."


For more information:
Manuel Peris
Agribio Terra Organic
Polígono Industrial La Coma
C/ 12, n.º 54 CP 46220 Picassent. Valencia, Spain
T: (+34) 961 232 646  

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