Michel Jansen, Total Produce:

“I do not rule out price doubling for oranges”

Oranges will become scarce in summer, fruit importers warn, now that the European Parliament has voted in favour of stricter rules regarding the import of oranges from South Africa this week. As far as Brussels is concerned, the oranges will have to be in quarantine for 24 days at a temperature of -0.5 degrees Celsius from now on in order to combat the false codling moth. According to importers, most oranges will become unsellable under those circumstances. Moreover, there would not be any capacity to implement the measure.

Michel Jansen, manager for orange importer Total Produce, cannot understand the new measure. “There is no immediate danger from that moth,” he says. “The moth was there in previous years as well, but then it was allowed.”

Great consequences
“The consequences are great, because if those rules are actually enforced, there will be considerably less citrus on the market between June and October. There will be a shortage of oranges, higher prices and less product in the shops.” Jansen does not rule out orange prices taking flight. “It is difficult to predict, because we have never been in a similar situation. But I definitely do not rule out a doubling of the price.”

Importers say the measure is a veiled protective measure for the Southern European citrus sector, especially that of Spain. Dutch Euro-MP Annie Schreijer-Pierik seconds that. “The specific cooling technique prescribed by the European Parliament does not even exist,” she says. “This is just a trade blockade and an example of unnecessary regulations.”

Schreijer-Pierink calls on EU commissioner Timmermans to not enforce the measure. “He says he wants better regulations in Europe. If that is true, he should stop this import threshold for citrus.”

Imports
Europe imports 600,000 tonnes of fruit from South Africa annually. Of that amount, 400,000 tonnes are oranges, which enter Europe between June and October. According to the fruit importers, Europe does not have any production during that period. The South African import is 70 per cent of the total orange import.

The European Commission has to decide whether the measure, which was declared by the European Parliament, will actually be implemented.


Source: NOS

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