The Coordinator of Farmers and Livestock Organizations (COAG) denounces a considerable increase in citrus imports by distribution chains with the aim of “bursting the market” at the beginning of the Spanish campaign. In addition, fraudulent and erroneous practices are being detected in the commercial distribution lines, in which Spanish citrus fruits are presented when it is really mislabeled imports to confuse the consumer.
“Citrus imports are massive and growing and no longer only seek to cover the dates in which there may be no product in our country, but are used to speculate, accumulating product brought from thousands of kilometers away, to artificially saturate the market and throw the prices in our beginning of campaign “, has underlined Pedro Gomáriz, head of the citrus sector of COAG. The harvest forecast for this season, although it is somewhat tighter than the average of the previous ones, is set in more than enough quantities to meet the needs of the markets. The capacity presented by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food for the 2021/2022 season estimates a production of 6.705 million tons, 2.1% lower than the average of the last five years.
In this sense, COAG calls on the competent authorities to reinforce inspections to end these situations, while calling on the distribution chains to make a firm and determined commitment to the national product from the beginning of the campaign, avoiding speculative practices and, sometimes fraudulent, that only generate misery for producers and destruction of wealth in the whole of our territory with unnecessary imports. “Our productions of oranges, clementines, lemons or grapefruits are healthier and safer for the consumer than imports, because we produce under the highest quality standards, but they are also more beneficial for the planet by, among other things, not traveling long distances in the transport”, has affirmed the person in charge of COAG.
While Spanish producers maintain strict production standards, imports reach us in an uncontrolled way, use active ingredients not authorized in the EU and pose a serious risk due to the entry of pests not present in our fields. For example, until the end of August South Africa, one of the main citrus suppliers outside the EU, had already accumulated 28 detections with harmful and dangerous organisms, mainly Black spot (17) and Thaumatotibia leucotreta (10), with no reaction due to part of the community authorities, who continue to allow this drain on our borders. Both the phytosanitary aspects and the devastating damage in the markets produced by South African imports must be taken into account by the EU authorities in the current negotiations of the trade liberalization agreement with South Africa, adopting restrictive measures that protect the European citrus industry.
South Africa continues to be the leading source of citrus imports to the EU, with a volume of 421,370 tn between September 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021 (+ 6.9% compared to the average of the last 5 years in the case of oranges), followed by Egypt (325,256 tons), which is clearly growing in recent years, especially in orange, ahead of Turkey (240,555 tons) and Morocco (139,265 tons).