According to many in the sector, the start of the Spanish citrus season was affected by the entry into the European market of South African citrus; a result of the trade agreement that came into force in 2017. This forced Spanish exporters to compete with those from South Africa during some crucial months. However, the end of the production period in the southern hemisphere does not mean the end of the situation, as now imports will arrive from Egypt.
Even though the supply of citrus fruits from other latitudes serves to meet the demand when there is no production in Spain (in summer, for example), the entry into Europe of cargoes during the European season generates competition against local producers from countries with lower production costs
Various producers have expressed their concern about the possible impact of those import during the second stage of the campaign, and this feeling is justified by the data collected by the statistical office of the European Union, Eurostat. In 2017, 1.1 million tons of oranges were imported, compared to the 2.7 million produced in Europe, with 61% accounted for by Spain.
Although 43% of the imports come from South Africa, the truth is that imbalances are only caused by the fruit that arrives in the period when Valencian citrus is also available. Meanwhile, Egyptian imports total 281,000 tons, which is 27% of the volume supplied by non-EU countries. but that fruit’s arrival fully overlaps with the Spanish campaign.
The agricultural organization La Unió predicts an increase in citrus prices at origin within fifteen days, given the supply of varieties with lower production volumes and a more orderly marketing.
In just over a week, the first part of the citrus campaign, featuring the Navelinas and Clemenules, will come to an end. Those two varieties account for the largest production volumes in the Region of Valencia, and for the time being, the market remains stagnant, with very low prices.