The Valencian Farmers Association (AVA-Asaja) has asked the regional and national Administration to carry out an “in-depth” investigation to clarify the causes of the “sharp drop” in prices at origin of citrus fruits.

According to the Valencia Citrus Market, orange prices have plummeted by up to 30% in the last month, going from 0.36 to 0.25 euros per kilo in the case of the Navel Lane Late variety.

In later varieties, Valencia Late has started operations with 0.21 euros/kilo, a figure that is also below production costs. Regarding mandarins, the varieties that have suffered the greatest decrease in value at the field level are Orri (-22%) and Ortanique (-17%), as reported by the agricultural organization in a statement.

AVA-Asaja has demanded an “intense” campaign of ex officio inspections of the main commercial operators and distribution chains “to rule out anti-competitive practices, and even possible collusion, since, with the official data available from the European Commission, no factor technical alone can decisively explain this sharp collapse in the prices received by producers”.

Likewise, it has urged the Food Information and Control Agency (AICA), dependent on the Ministry of Agriculture, to investigate, and where appropriate sanction, “any contract for the sale of citrus fruits whose price is below the average costs of production.” .

According to the agricultural organization, the “first blows” of the citrus crisis occurred in January, when some varieties of mandarins such as Clemenvilla or Hernandina “had serious marketing problems and there were even many fields that were left unharvested for lack of demand.”

The organization chaired by Cristóbal Aguado has insisted on a global agreement from the interprofessional Intercitrus that includes, among other issues such as promotion, “strong measures to end as soon as possible the problem of ‘pinyolà’ that causes a loss of consumers, especially among the youngest.”

Likewise, he adds that a good part of the oranges, which had been receiving “reasonable” prices, since February have also fallen below the profitability threshold. According to AVA-Asaja, part of the sector, especially private trade and cooperativism, “places all the blame on an external factor such as foreign imports.”

Along these lines, it points out that, according to data from the European Commission provided by Ailimpo, imports of oranges to the EU from third countries from October to February were 263,437 tons, 5% less than in the same period of the previous year.

Exports of oranges from Spain to the EU amounted to 580,337 tons, which maintains the market share at around 70% in a campaign with a reduced harvest due to climatic adversities.

However, AVA-Asaja has reiterated its “indignation at the EU’s trade strategy that encourages unfair competition from third countries, at the cost of sacrificing its producers” and has highlighted the “enormous growth potential of Egypt”, which has surpassed South Africa for the first time in shipments of oranges during this stretch of the season, with 115,022 tons, which represents an increase of 56% compared to the previous year.

In this sense, the agricultural organization has demanded that Brussels review the trade agreement that the EU has signed with Egypt, as well as with other countries such as South Africa, Turkey and Morocco, in order to “evaluate the present and future impact on the sector.” European citrus fruit, taking into account the increase in surface area that has been planted in recent years, and to prevent the entry of new pests and diseases into Europe.

AVA-Asaja has warned that the mobilizations “will continue as long as the agrarian and environmental policies promoted by all administrations reduce our competitiveness and drive us out of our fields and farms.”