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Early tangerines make way for later strains

Spanish tangerine cultivators are increasingly focusing on late strains. These have a number of advantages compared to early tangerines. Willem Koole of Frukar talks about the developments in Spanish citrus and the increasing importance of labels.

When it finally rained in Spain during the last few weeks of October, it was at the wrong moment. The harvest had to be halted because of the rain, meaning the season started later than usual. Besides, the amount of rain was still not enough to ensure the citrus could grow significantly. “Sizes are much smaller,” Koole says. “It is still early in the season, so much can still change. The rain we had in October was insufficient.” The harvest will probably be about 15 to 20 per cent larger. Those figures are for both lemons, tangerines and oranges. The increase in that volume is the result of natural fluctuations between seasons.

Marisol and Satsuma are making a flying start this season. “Colour and flavour were good, despite the hot autumn,” Koole says. “We had fewer overseas tangerines on the market, which also helps.” A different trend can be seen among cultivators. The early strain area is under pressure in favour of later strains. “Most cultivators think September and October are too early in the year to harvest. Because nights in those months are not very cold yet, the tangerines often cannot colour properly. This is also true for oranges. Many cultivators therefore choose to devote themselves to later strains.”

Orange supply starting with difficulty
Because of persistent heat and too little precipitation in various regions, the orange harvest has also been delayed, although Frukar has not been affected by that. “We received the first Serena oranges two weeks ago,” Koole explained in week 43. Smaller oranges are advantageous for retailers. Supermarkets often choose smaller sizes for their mesh packaging. “Free trade prefers larger sizes. For them, it can be a problem. But I think the market will have recovered by the end of November or the beginning of December.”

When we talked to Koole in the final week of October, the market was still very uncertain. “We currently do not have many large-sized oranges available, but this might stabilise later in the season. Many cultivators do not yet want to harvest, because they would rather wait until the fruit is slightly larger.” That does not just apply to orange cultivators, but also to lemon cultivators. 

Labels representing quality
“I think the market prefers good product from good brands,” Koole continues. Labels that have consistent quality and flavour are the future. “For 26 years already, Serena has been the showpiece of our company, but it can also be seen elsewhere in the sector. People are looking for a familiar product that has a label. That is becoming more important.” That growing interest in brands and labels is primarily motivated by the value labels stand for. The concept has to be just right. More anonymous products will be in more difficulty. “That is because more day traders are stopping, and there is no succession.”

Retailers are loyal to suppliers who can offer a good product that comes with a good story. Offering additional value with products will only become more important in future. It is therefore important to know which shipping agents are cooperated with. “Because Frukar has been working with the same shipping agents for years already, it is possible to supply products that have additional value. Because of this, we can almost always meet customers’ wishes.”

Koole also prefers shipping agents that package from the same region. “Otherwise customers do not know whether oranges are from Seville or from Valencia, and that can make all the difference. Weather conditions and temperature have an influence on the citrus. If you want to be able to supply continuous quality, it is important to package from the same region,” Koole concludes.

More information:
Willem Koole