The transport strike and two weeks of rain in the Valencian Region have made even worse an already very bad citrus fruit campaign
The losses have yet to be evaluated at the moment of publishing this article, but they are expected to be substantial due to the two weeks of non-stop rainfall in the Valencian Region, where different towns in the Province of Castellon have recorded historic rainfall figures.
Added to this circumstance is the transport strike that is about to reach another two weeks of protests, with road blocks and pickets. The delays in the arrival of goods from Andalusia, for preparation in the Castellon and Valencia plants have caused serious disruptions in the supply chain, not only on the Spanish home market, but also regarding goods travelling to central Europe.
Both circumstances have caused a string of problems that range from accumulations of fruit in the fields, in the chilling rooms (some warehouses have stock and others are empty) and delays in deliveries reaching their destinations, with particular incidence on the shipments being sent outside Spanish borders.
Furthermore, the production that was still on the trees has been seriously affected both by the wind, which caused important losses due to falling, and by the heavy rainfall, which in some places has reached an all-time high. The chilling rooms in many centres remained empty for days due to the impossibility of harvesting.
According to different sources from the sector, many centres have suffered shortages in their stocks and they have been powerless to meet the programmed orders.
“When this chaotic situation comes to an end, the most pressing action will involve evaluating the condition of the fruit in the fields and not immediately harvesting, although the demand is putting pressure to do so, as it is most likely that the fruit quality is not suitable due to the damp. If it is not done like this, there will be an avalanche of complaints,” sources from the sector indicate.
When faced by this emergency situation involving perishable products such as fruit and vegetables, Fepex has requested reinforcements to ensure the minimum road corridors. 94% of the fruit and vegetables that are exported in March (between 1.2 and 1.3 million tonnes) use road transport.
And meanwhile, Spain is dropping positions as a supplier of the European markets, as the figures from the latest EU Reinforced Monitoring report of citrus fruit imports confirms, which has just been published by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAPA) with the total data of regarding entries to EU space over the past year.
The EU has increased its purchases by 8% over the first four months of the current campaign (September-December) with 718,008 tonnes.
South Africa is the main supplier of citrus fruit to the EU from outside its borders, with 793,567 tonnes in 2021, 1.4% more than in 2020 and 26.1% more regarding the average over the last five campaigns (2016/20).
The second position is held by Egypt, with 339,821 tonnes in 2021 (+19.2% and +43.1%, respectively), followed by Turkey, which placed 229,102 tonnes (-11.0% and -7.8%) in the EU; Morocco, with 175,719 tonnes (-1.9% and -9.4%); Argentina, with 140,279 tonnes (0.0% and -26.6%) and Israel, with 75,414 tonnes (-12.0% and -9.3%).