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Lower prices and poor sales raise concerns in Valencia's citrus sector

The current mood of Valencian citrus producers is diametrically opposed to that at the start of the previous season, and even to that at the end, barely five or six months ago. A few setbacks for the majority of early mandarin varieties have sufficed to cause general uneasiness and bring the feeling that everything will go from bad to worse.

Orange (and clementine) growers wonder why there isn't a greater interest from buyers compared to last season. And to make matters worse, prices are reportedly well below those reached a year earlier. Furthermore, rumours of a possible super production have spread, bringing the general mood further down.

Apparently, large volumes of fruit are already being left unharvested, which will rot unless they can be used by the processing industry, which is growing strongly.

In any case, if we agreed that two campaigns ago the harvest level was at 100, we subtracted the 19% reduction recorded in the next, and to the resulting 81 we added the 23% increase of the current season, we would be left with 99.63%; that is, a return to almost the exact level of two years ago. Nothing exorbitant or extraordinary that should encourage fears or haste.

Rather, it would be well to dispel such fears and bad omens. Even more so when it is clear that the demand and consumption show a good development across Europe, as the fruit's characteristics improve.

The sale of the Clemenules (the queen of the season) has already started and the quality is much better than that of most of the previous varieties. There is a lot of it this year, but nothing unprecedented, and as long as there are no meteorological setbacks, the entire production should be sold conveniently and without hiccups.

As far as oranges are concerned, the harvest is now focused on the Navelina. There is a lot of demand, and even brand-oriented markets are looking for the little Salustiana there is left. The 'safety net' of the juice industry is also playing its role, absorbing the smaller fruit and paying around 15 cents per kilo for it.

With the current prices at origin for the oranges (18-20 cents), the high demand and secured sales of the discarded fruit to industrial processors, and by making sure only the best fruit is selected for the fresh market, it is unlikely things will go awry, so there is no real need for extreme concern.


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