"The orange import campaign was rather satisfactory, it even ended in late November due to the high temperatures registered in the Mediterranean production area. Spain contributed to this situation with the slow ripening of its citrus fruit. With the November sales, the market 'cleared' of all the stock of imported produce: there was no waste and prices were satisfactory. The latter also maintained at the start of the citrus fruit season in Mediterranean countries like Italy and Spain," explained Giuseppe Galluccio, founder and sales manager at Gruppo La California (GLC), operating at the Naples fresh produce market (CAAN) and in Capua.

"Supply was not extensive in December due to the ongoing high temperatures, which led to high quotations. I would like to point out that demand remained low however, as supply remained significantly lower, prices increased. In January 2024 there was a slight drop in sales. Nonetheless citrus fruit continues to sell at prices that remain within the norm."

Giuseppe Galluccio, left

The operator expects that there will be a lot of confusion over the next few months. "The 30-40% of Egyptian produce that used to arrive via the Red Sea cannot be exported due to the current geopolitical situation. Egypt is usually present on the market between February and June and represents a leading player for the supply and distribution of citrus fruit in Europe. However, if all of the Egyptian produce will be poured into the European markets, it will be a considerable problem for both Italy and Spain and, therefore, also for our group. Such situation would cause a greater imbalance than in past years. We hope a solution will be reached as soon as possible so that ships can return to covering their normal routes."

As regards the possibility that the spreading of citrus greening in Brazil may affect citrus fruit quotation in Europe, the founder and sales manager of GLC reports that "it actually affects us a lot. The processed produce industry has no stock and blond oranges of all categories are now sold at high prices. Over the past few years, Brazil has always been a reliable supplier for the processing sector. Now that the country is lacking the produce, a lot more of the Mediterranean production will be destined to the processing industry."

In addition to being an importer, Gruppo La California is also a producer via its businesses in Italy (Sicily) and abroad. "The prolonged lack of temperature difference between day and night, necessary for the ripening of citrus fruit, generated quite the damage in Sicily. With the first sudden rain of December, in fact, Tarocco oranges, which presented quite a thin peel due to the lack of precipitations and abnormal heat, developed cracking. In addition, it is a year when oranges have small grades."

Lemons: production is abundant this year too
"The quantity of lemons this year is huge. In Spain, in particular, the produce is not even sent to the processing industry, which is currently paying €0.05/kg. A minimum price for producers to keep working would be at least €0.30-0.35/kg. In Argentina, most lemons are grown for the processing industry, and South Africa too produces a lot of them for this sector. The processing sector is saturated with lemons, unlike what is happening for oranges."

News coming soon
Gruppo La California will be among the Italian exhibitors at Fruit Logistica in Berlin, Hall 2.2/Stand B-10. "We will attend the fair strong of our 30% increase in turnover in 2023. We have great projects for the expansion of our business. We will also present our new concept which, in a few years, will lead us to specializing even more," explains the founder and sales manager of GLC.

For further information: www.gruppolacalifornia.com