Spain: Alicante closes one of its most profitable citrus campaigns

ASAJA Alicante has expressed its satisfaction about the results achieved this citrus campaign in the province, especially with fresh lemons, which in some cases saw increases in the price at origin of up to 300% compared to the 2014/2015 campaign. For the next harvest, prospects point to an increase in the lemon acreage of between 20 and 30%.

In any case, the area available for plantations is limited, and this, together with the notable demand for Spanish citrus recorded over the last three years, is leading Asaja to believe that growers will enjoy exceptional conditions in future campaigns.

The 2015/2016 citrus season has come to an end. This year has been marked by a decline in the lemon production of around 30%, mostly due to the high temperatures recorded in May and June 2014, and by a significant increase in prices, which in some cases were up to 71% higher than in the 2014/2015 season, as back then, the price at origin stood at an average of € 0.70 per kilo, while in 2015/2016, the prices paid to producers have come to exceed 1.20 Euro. These high prices have favourably offset the lower production.

Such factors have led to this being one of the most profitable harvests in the last ten years for citrus growers in Alicante and Murcia, where the bulk of the Spanish production concentrates. The fact is that Spanish citrus growers in the south east have created an effective model which has helped ensure greater quality and a better recognition of Spanish citrus.

In doing so, they have achieved historic results this campaign, and have shown that when a quality product is offered and the price at origin is good for the producer, the other links in the food chain also benefit. "With this campaign, we have shown that if we supply a high quality product, you don't need to pay the grower rock-bottom prices, because they will have a good market price and everyone will benefit from it.

"This year, the producers, as well as the suppliers and distributors, have all made a profit, and this should set a precedent and become an example for other crops. When the price at origin is optimal, the campaign is good for all links in the food chain. There is joy for all," assures the president of Jóvenes Agricultores (Young Growers) ASAJA Alicante, Eladio Aniorte.

"Spain has become the second largest lemon producer worldwide and the unmatched quality of our product is recognised internationally, thus boosting exports. Therefore, demand will continue to rise and, although prospects point to a recovery of the acreage, mainly for the Verna variety, as well as to a return to stable production levels, ASAJA believes that lemons will remain profitable in the long term because, regardless of how many new trees are planted, the growing area for this citrus is limited to Alicante and Murcia, so there are limits to the crop's expansion," assures the president of ASAJA Alicante.

Mandarins and oranges
In a similar fashion, early mandarins have also recorded a good profitability, with prices at origin ranging between 0.70 and 0.80 € per kilo.

As for early oranges, such as Navelinas, the price has been acceptable, hovering around € 0.30-0.40 per kilo. Meanwhile, the Summer suffered a drop in production of about 30% compared to 2014/2015 and has been sold by around € 0.60 per kilo, so producers have achieved a good profitability.

For the upcoming 2016/2017 season, top quality fruit is expected, since the good prices and stable temperatures recorded have allowed for the growth of generous productions, with good calibres and exceptional qualities.

Asaja estimated that the increase in the production of oranges next season will amount to around 15%, while lemons are estimated to record a 20% growth over this year's figure. Furthermore, in the coming campaign, none of the three crops should be facing any issues with prices.

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