Jugos, bebidas, vinos y licoresSep. 22, 2011
Termina temporada con baja en precios y alza en producción
The lemon campaign ended with a production of 930,512 tons, up 36% on the previous one, in a season marked by low payments at origin and rise in exports, as EFEAGRO has explained to industry sources.
The lemon industry in Spain is facing structural problems that tend to be repeated during all campaigns, as a fragmented supply and highly concentrated demand, according to producers, is what imposes the price and conditions, and leaves little room for farmers to negotiate.
More than 900,000 tons from this 2010 to 2011 campaign, which ended in late August, were considered to be ‘normal’ for crop volumes, like the ones two seasons ago, although higher than those of 2009-2010, which were very low (682,498 tons) because of weather conditions.
The lemon campaign – a crop that has some 41,000 hectares- usually begins in early October, although larger volumes are concentrated during the month of November, and Murcia is the main producing area, followed by Valencia and Andalusia.
This season the export sector has sold a very large volume of lemons (464,000 tons), according to balance data of the Interprofessional Association of Lemon and Grapefruit (Ailimpo), compared to 377,876 tons in 2009-2010.
Export and the industry have given outlet to the production volume, while the average return for the producer has been negative, especially for the Fino lemon, as highlighted by producers.
Although this time the season has ended in a “moderately positive” way, by having finished selling virtually all production both fresh and for the industry; low prices at origin have been the other side of the coin, since they did not help to cover production costs.
The president of Interprofessional Lemon and Grapefruit (Ailimpo), Rafael Sanchez, has insisted that the producer, once again, has suffered liquidations and low prices below production costs, mostly marked according to variety and because of the “strong pressure” from commercial operators.
Sanchez quoted as an example that the average lemon price originally stood at 12 cents per kilo this season, when the acceptable level for producers should be between 15 and 18 cents a kilo.
On the positive side, this season had an increase in production that led to a Direct employment growth in the tasks of harvesting and handling of more than 20%, with about 15,000 workers.
The Ailimpo balance also reflects a turnover of some 434 million euros compared to 385 million euros for the 2009/2010 season.
However, farmers’ organizations have highlighted that the production sector has again been the most affected by the pressures of the retail industry and the fall in home prices, which was about 50% compared to the previous campaign. Another point to take into consideration is that production costs have continued to rise this season, both in the field of fertilizers, pesticides and irrigation treatments, among others, so many farms face a “ruinous” situation.
They have also complained that, in view of the future Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) that is being debated on, there is no prospect that Brussels will introduce substantial changes to improve the horticultural sector in areas such as introduction of reference prices that allow the viability of many explorations. abc