Spanish citrus growers are wiping egg off their faces after making false claims that sub-standard navel oranges on Spanish supermarket shelves were South African. It turns out the oranges were grown by the Spanish themselves.

The furore started last month in the Valencia region when the local Growers’ Union rallied loudly against the “South African” oranges on their shelves. “The entry of high volumes of bad quality citrus from the end of the South African season until beyond Christmas has a very negative impact on the local production, which is now at its best when it comes to organoleptic qualities.”

Great was the embarrassment when it turned out the fruit had been grown locally in Spain and mislabelled by a Spanish supermarket chain.

Spain has been at the forefront of a failed EU initiative to ban South African citrus from European markets because of citrus blackspot.

SACGA president Justin Chadwick could hardly suppress his glee. “Spain has been raising blackspot as a protectionist measure against South Africa for years. They complained bitterly about the poor quality and now it turns out the poor quality was produced by them.”

  • by Jan-Jan Joubert, Sunday Times 22 January 2017