The 2018/19 Spanish citrus campaign has got off to an underwhelming start, with a preponderance of smaller sizes in early clementine varieties and the increasing presence of late season Southern Hemisphere citrus – particularly from South Africa – slowing demand for new season fruit in the European market.
According to one report in the local press, virtually all of the early satsumas and clementines that have yet to be harvested have no outlet either on the fresh or processed market.
“We’re talking about a loss of more than 100,000 tonnes, but it could be higher, even double that figure,” the newspaper said, noting that the losses extended beyond Valencia to other producing areas such as Tarragona, Murcia and Andalusia.
However, Anecoop’s Nacho Juárez said the situation was more complex. “In the case of satsuma, it’s true to say that demand has been falling steadily over several years,” he told Fruitnet. “But, barring a few instances where harvesting has been delayed due to rain or slow demand, in our experience only small quantities of satsumas are going unharvested.”
In the case of clementines, Juárez said that if anything demand was outstripping supply. “All the varieties in this segment with the right quality are selling without problems, although it’s true to say that prices are on the lower side, but this is mainly due to the smaller size profile,” he said.
Another big Valencia-based exporter said the problem would likely worsen in the future as the overlap between Northern and Southern Hemisphere production widens.
The sector is facing calls to invest in marketing campaigns to stimulate citrus demand during the early season when temperatures have not yet cooled sufficiently to kick-start consumption.