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"Egyptian oranges are often talk of the town, but their producers are specialized in almost all fruits and vegetables"

In the latest edition of the Agricultural Producer of the Year Award, ASAJA Elche has chosen to recognize the journey of the family-owned company Marfruit S.L. Founded by Pepito Marroquí, the company has seen significant growth in its nearly half-century of history, from its beginnings focused on supplying national wholesalers with local products, to owning over 1,000 hectares of crops and reaching customers and supermarket chains in more than 20 countries.

Pepito Marroquí.

"In the beginning, when my father started Marfruit in 1976, we grew traditional vegetables and fruits from the area, which were marketed in Spanish markets, before supermarkets became popular," says José Juan Marroquí. "In 1998, after more than 20 years of growth in the Spanish market, we decided to start marketing in Europe, and it was decided to relocate the company, which was based in an old warehouse in La Marina. The acquisition of a new warehouse allowed us to increase the volumes we were working with. Eventually, between 2006 and 2008, we started betting on open ground productions, until we reached the current 1,000 hectares."

"Today, artichokes and pointed cabbage, as well as broccoli, have become our flagship products in the winter campaign, and all varieties of melon (yellow, Galia, Piel de Sapo...) and pomegranates, which arrive around August 15 with the earliest varieties, are our main summer products," says José Juan, from Marfruit. The company, in fact, is the producer of the world's only pomegranate with a protected designation of origin (PDO): the Mollar de Elche pomegranate.

"If we don't introduce laws to protect the EU product, unfortunately, it will disappear"
ASAJA Elche will present the award on March 2, recognizing the company's work and journey, and placing special emphasis on its family character.

As pointed out by José Juan Marroquí, "prices are very low. This year, moreover, it seems that the demand is not in line with the production we have, which is between 10 and 15% lower than in other years."

"In general, the economy of all countries has been strongly affected, but we are also under a lot of pressure from the productions of third countries. For example, this year we have hardly made any shipments to the United Arab Emirates, when in other years they would have accounted for 10-14% of our turnover. The problem is that, with the conflict in the Red Sea, freight rates have skyrocketed, and when your products are offering you low profit margins, it is not interesting to make air shipments. Moreover, we are facing increasing competition from Egypt."

"About 8-10 years ago, we were working with sweet potatoes for export, but two years ago we decided to stop growing them, because the Egyptian campaign started at the same time and their prices were 40% lower than ours. At this time, Egyptian oranges are often the talk of the town, but in the end, their producers are specialized in almost all fruits and vegetables, and they will continue developing with those in which they are not."

"Although it must be said that they are not the enemy as such; our enemy is in Europe. Brussels is the one responsible for setting laws and fair tariffs for European agriculture. Here, every worker is paid a salary according to the law. Nothing to do with the salaries paid in other countries, where there's even child exploitation, and there's also inequality in the price of fuels, electricity, water, fertilizers, etc."

"We have to respect environmental laws, we have to reduce CO₂ emissions, we have to respect the MRLs (maximum residue limits in products), but products from other countries violate such regulations. If we do not fight with the same weapons, and if we do not create laws to protect EU products, unfortunately, we will lose them."

José Juan Marroquí.

"Marfruit is a second-generation company. We are continuing the work of my father and looking after everything he achieved with so much effort, and the hope is that our children can continue with this project. But a lot needs to change if we want young people to be interested in working in agriculture."

For more information:
Camino Cementerio, P-2 nº 196
03194 La Marina – Elche
Alicante, Spain
Tel.: +34/ 965 419 062
[email protected]

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