R&D+i to “manufacture” the perfect citrus fruit

José Antonio Alconchel

Alcoaxarquía is starting the campaign with a new, 100% automated warehouse and stressing its backing for precision farming

“The orange is the essence of Alcoaxarquía.” José Antonio Alconchel, CEO of the Alcoaxarquia group, has been working in this segment since the 1980s and. although the company currently works with a large volume of tropical fruit, it is not putting citrus fruit growing to one side. In both cases all of the fruit is 100% ecological. The clearest proof of this is the 500,00€ investment that they have paid out for the continuous modernisation of the 1,500 m2 citrus fruit handling plant located next to the tropical fruit plant in Vélez-Málaga. With the last action they have technified the entire production process of the plant, from the entry of the produce, passing through classification and sizing, to the preparation in different formats. This automation, using cutting-edge technology that includes artificial viewing and the latest equipment in preparation and palletisation, allows the quality to be guaranteed, while streamlining the processes and optimising the work force. “The plant prepares 70 tonnes/day with just 5 workers,” the Managing Director, Juan Becerra explains.

Prior to entry at the handling plant, the agronomic department technicians carry out an exhaustive control of all the processes in the fields on each of the company’s plots of land. “Our greatest goal is to change the concept of ‘producing’ to ‘manufacturing’ fruit.”

Currently, the Alcoaxarquía group has 450 hectares of its own production in Spain, in the provinces of Huelva, Seville, Cordoba and Cadiz. In Peru, it has another 150 hectares, in addition to a processing plant covering 2500 m2, shared for the avocado crop and its almost 600 hectares.

“Our commitment to our clients is to deliver the best produce to their supermarket shelves, the so-called ‘4 s’: succulent, sustainable, salubrious fruit and we give the best service” 12 months of the year. To do this, they opt for precision farming, verifying aspects such as the sap value in the fields to control the nutritional values of the fruit, both in the harvest and in the post-harvest periods.

Regarding sustainability, they have the endorsement of certificates such as Global G.A.P. Sprint, which guarantees their good water management (they also have this for tropical fruit) and they have just obtained recognition in biodynamic production with the Demeter certificate on one of their farms and in their installations to be able to extend their market share, particularly in Germany. Added to these are ecological/organic certificates: Smeta, Global GAP, Global GRASP, Bio Suisse, Naturland, IFS and BRC.

In this campaign, the citrus fruit division of Alcoaxarquía will generate a production of around 8,000 tonnes, but in just 3 years they expect to reach 18,000 t, once their youngest plantations come into full production.

Its range of citrus fruits includes oranges, lemons, grapefruit, mandarins, kumquats and limes and they export 90% to the European market.

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