After a very dry year in the Valencian coast, with high temperatures in late summer and early autumn, "the citrus season has started with similar difficulties as last season, in the context of a financial crisis that is slowing sales down," explains Fernando González, CEO of Naranjas Torres, during FreshPlaza's visit to its facilities in Almenara, Castellón.
"The first P23 and Oronules clementines have started with good prices, although also with some problems due to these high temperatures, unusual for the month of October, which favour the proliferation of flies that cause fruit rot. We will have to wait until temperatures drop to at least 13 °C for this insect to disappear. Additionally, citrus fruits require a minimum of three nights with temperatures between 12 and 13 °C for carotenes to develop," he explains.
Moreover, the fact that this year the summer weather is lasting for longer is likely to result in new cases of "clareta" or cracked skin on oranges, an issue that drove the sector mad last season.
"We hope the campaign will not be as complicated as last year's; for now, we will have to wait and see," points out Fernando.
Origins of Naranjas Torres, a family business
It was 1940 when the Torres family entered the fruit business, but it was not until 1960 when the company opened its own workplace with fresh produce, and expanded to Spain's major markets with its own offices in Madrid, Barcelona, Zaragoza, Bilbao and Asturias.
Then, in 2002, they opened their plant located in Almenara, in the province of Castellon. This is also the year when they were awarded the prize for best company in the Region of Valencia. It owns 24,000 square metres of modern facilities ready to receive, store, handle, package and ship its flagship products, oranges and clementines, with its own transport fleet.
Seeking the optimal maturation for a good taste, the key
"From the very start, Naranjas Torres has focused solely on the domestic market to be able to supply a product that stands out for its good taste, and we have achieved that with our brand," assures Fernando.
"Precisely for this reason we usually enter the market later than our competitors, because we don't start the harvest until the fruit reaches the right degree of ripening, even if it means delaying the product's marketing," continues Fernando.
Regarding clementines, at the moment Naranjas Torres is about to finish with the Oronules and Clemenpons, and next week it will start with the Clemenules. Later they will continue with varieties such as Clemenvilla, Nadorcott, Afourer and Ortanique.
"Just like with oranges, we only work with thin-skinned varieties that ensure the characteristics we seek in terms of sweetness, flavour and tasting quality; our goal is for consumers not to notice the changes from one variety to another," affirms the CEO.
He states that clementine consumption has been growing in recent years, mostly due to how easy they are to peel, unlike oranges, even if they are different concepts. In his words:
"In the past, we had clementines during a short period of time, but demand has been growing and we have sought to extend the campaign with earlier and later varieties. Nowadays, there are Spanish clementines available until May."
In today's globalised world, competition from third countries, such as Morocco and Egypt, can be a serious threat to keep good prices, as they ship large volumes to the European markets.
"Fortunately, we are not affected by this problem, as we focus only on the domestic market. Spain is a country with a long tradition in the consumption of oranges and clementines and consumers are able to distinguish the quality of Spanish citrus fruits; consequently, there is no competition from other countries," explains Fernando.
The Torres brand is distributed in the traditional market (60%) and by distribution chains (40%). Its packaging adapts to each client's requirements, from trays or wooden crates to cardboard and reusable plastic containers for some supermarket chains.For more information:
Asunción TorresTorres Hermanos y Sucesores S.A.
T: +34 96 261 00 16
M: +34 670 319 email@example.com/NaranjasTorres twitter.com/TorresNaranjas