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Abel Alarcón, manager of Brio Fruits:

"Spain: "The citrus sector may be starting to come together"

The Valencian companies Brio Fruits, Germán Fuster and TresFrut have launched a common project to sell oranges and clementines under the same brands: Naranja de Valencia and Mandarina de Valencia (Orange of Valencia and Mandarin of Valencia); a really innovative move in this sector.

"We are in a period of initial contact with the market and we can already see that there is interest from some supermarket chains in working with these brands," explains Abel Alarcón, manager of Brio Fruits and president of the project Naranja de Valencia.

"We believe that unity is strength; we are three companies with the same ideas about quality and we can build an interesting project. They are more focused on the domestic market and we on exports, and there may be a very good synergy between the three of us. Also, while Germán Fuster specialises in oranges, we are mostly devoted to clementines; and TresFrut to both products equally. It is an important step, since it is the first time that there is a will to join forces; something very difficult to achieve in this sector. At the moment, we are only three companies. We will see what the future holds, but the sector may be starting to come together," he points out.

Brio Fruits has its origins in Paris, where it was devoted to the sale of fruits and vegetables until they opened Banagrumes in the market of Rungis in 1969. Later, in 1977, Brio's current packing plant was built in Real de Gandía, Valencia. It is here, in Valencia, where they started to buy plantations in order to have their own production and gain greater control on the chain.

"Countries like Israel are an example for me in terms of innovation"
"We have over 100 hectares of citrus fruits with a production of 3,000 tonnes this year, as well as 12 hectares of cherry trees. We complete our supply with purchases from other growers, although our goal is to continue expanding our own production as much as we can."

"We work with clementine and orange varieties that we call 'nobles', which are those that are more appreciated in the market, such as the Oronules, Clemenvilla, Nadorcott, Murcott, etc. In oranges, we work with the Navelina, Salustiana, Sanguinelli, Lane Late, Powel and Valencia. We also have Orri mandarin farms protected with meshes against hail. We are registered and pay the royalty for this protected variety. We believe there is a good future for this Israeli variety, whose production in Spain will reach 50,000 tonnes within the next 4 years."

According to Abel Alarcón, growers in the Region of Valencia are abandoning varieties with a large production, such as the Clemenules in the case of clementines and the Navelina in the case of oranges, in order to plant other varieties or even switch to other types of fruit, such as kakis. 

"I believe that the sector should continue investing more in research on new varieties, pest control, etc. We can look at countries like Israel as an example. It is a very small country, but with a very innovative mentality, as shown by the varieties they have obtained in recent years, which, by the way, are among the most profitable in the market," he points out.

One of the campaigns with the best quality in recent memory
While last year about 25% of the production was lost, this year it will recover a little, although according to Abel Alarcón, not as much as initially expected, since the calibres at the start of the campaign have been very small and this will take a toll on the final volume. Furthermore, even though there will be a greater production, it will be of better quality, due to the fact that there have been no major issues in the production process. "This year, the fruit will be juicier and sweeter. We started with very high Brix levels in oranges, unlike last year. It's one of the best years in terms of quality and we hope this will help us achieve good sales."

"In any case, the temperatures at destination have already fallen, which usually gives a boost to the demand for citrus, while also helping fight and control pests." The fact, according to Abel Alarcón, is that "this is the first year in which the sector has apparently been unable to fully control the spread of pests. This, together with increasingly dry years and earlier campaigns, seem to be the clearer effects of climate change. We had never started with the Navelina as early as this year. Climate change is resulting in earlier campaigns," he affirms.

Brio Fruits exports mainly to Europe, although it is shipping more clementines to distant destinations like Canada every year. Its main sales channels are wholesale markets, as well as high-end supermarkets.

For more information:
Abel Alarcón
Agrios Selectos S.L. (Brio Fruits)
T: +34 962 868 000

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