Fruit Today reviewed some key aspects of citrus fruit growing with Francisco Cañamás, an executive from the Valencian company Cañamás Hermanos
Amongst these elements, we covered the reorganisation of the sector and the need for an improved production structure, capable of adding value to the produce.
Do you believe that the reading that has been given in the media about the possibility of produce shortages is correct?
Absolutely not. In this campaign, although with a smaller production volume, the final amount marketed will be the same or slightly lower than last year. A distinction must be made between the amount a tree produces and the oranges that can be marketed fresh. The division of the size and quality of the fruit this season is much better and therefore, the volume that can be used is greater.
At times the sector is not inclined to give this type of information. I am referring to the volumes that are really available. Do you think this is a very simplistic position?
I think it is an absurd position since, at present, information flows along many channels around the world. Neither the seller nor the purchaser can be so naïve. The question is: do we prefer them to purchase from other sources instead of from here? Is it better to purchaser fruit in South Africa, lose the profit margin and then want to recover it using Spanish produce? Do we want the offers that have arrived to establish important distribution chains that cause a fiasco in the fields and in the marketing process?
I don’t know whether this theory is simplistic or not, but what I am clear about is that behind the trading operations there is a responsibility that each one of us must assume. Everything flows, affects and must operate in a coordinated way. We must be aware of what we do, moving forward and adding value; if not, it will all get more complicated.
It is often described as a sector in crisis due to a lack of organisation. Do you share this idea or is this just the case for certain varieties?
There are many profitable varieties. I will list them: Oronules, Clemenvilla, Nadorcott, Orri, Ortanique, M7, all the varieties of Lanes, Powell, and quite a lot more. All of them have an organised production with important operators and vertical marketing, regardless of whether they are cooperatives or private businesses. In round figures, Spain produces 6-7 million tonnes of citrus fruits, of which 4-5 maintain their profitability and 2 million do not. I am basically referring to the Clemenules and Navelina varieties, the structures and production calendars of which are adapted to the reality of the market. The average clementine production reaches one and a half ‘hanegadas’ (1 hanegada = 840 m2). Imagine the amount of producers that have to come to an agreement to produce the amount needed! It is completely impractical to continue working with production structures from the 18th century.
And how can this be done in such an important sector where the interprofessionals that existed “have disappeared”?
We must listen to the market and the consumers; there must be planning, greater intersectoral coordination, promotions that encourage consumption, joint actions that give guarantees, greater safety, which harmonise even the treatments that are necessary, for example.
I find it hard to see how to reach these challenges without a body that brings all this together. Obviously I am referring to Intercitrus.
I believe that the sector is mature enough to give priority to the substance and not to the forms regarding certain milestones that must be reached. The first one involves defending the production. If we cannot value and defend the produce, there is nothing more to be said. All the examples of success in the world involve the defence of the produce because only through this can there be reinvestment, generating success in the model.
Are the club varieties a spur to this situation due to their good operation?
This could be a valid formula, since the value is reinvested in research and promotion, in favour of the produce itself and it is more complicated in these conditions for a variety to become obsolete for the market. Overexploited citrus fruits that have no structure are out of date.
What repercussions has the boom in fresh juice consumption had?
This fact is playing a key role because it provides us with a base price on which to build the entire price scale. Thanks to private initiative, a decade ago an important company was started up that has managed to generate a price resistance to ensure that the fresh produce does not lose its value.