By Francisco Seva Rivadulla
The Spanish lemon sector is going through one of the worst price crises in recent years. Currently, prices at origin for Fino lemons are 0.15 to 0.18 euro cents per kilo, while the production cost is 0.20 per kilo. Therefore, Spanish producers are losing money this harvest season, according to sources from the Agricultural Association of Young Farmers (ASAJA).
“The reasons for this strong crisis can be found in a timid international demand as a result of the restrictions caused by COVID-19, coupled with the closure of the HORECA channel (hotels and restaurants), as well as a strong pressure of supply from other countries such as Egypt, Morocco, Turkey and South Africa. They are suffocating prices and displacing the Spanish production of lemons and oranges in European markets,” says Alfonso Gálvez Caravaca, secretary general of ASAJA Murcia.
Juan de Dios Hernandez, a grower member of the citrus sector of ASAJA Murcia, says that producers are leaving lemons destined for the industry on the ground because the costs of producing and harvesting the fruit are not covered. “It is essential that the Spanish government and the European Union grant direct aid to producers and marketers of lemons,” said Hernandez. “The situation that is being experienced at the moment is unsustainable.”
“We remain very concerned about the aggressive unfair competition from Egypt, which is displacing us from the market with their lemons and oranges, committing social dumping, which is allowed and tolerated by the leaders of the European Union. The survival of the European citrus sector is in danger,” said Caravaca.
President of ASAJA Alicante, Eladio Aniorte Aparicio, says it is essential that the European Union puts measures in place to prevent the entry of citrus from countries competing unfairly with European producers.
Francisco Seva Rivadulla is an international agri-food journalist.