Why orange and lemon prices skyrocketed: ‘This is the perfect storm’

The tweet went viral this week. A customer bought five kilograms of oranges for 4.35 euros from the Getafe hypermarket. Three days later, the price of the same product in the same supermarket jumped to 5.75 euros, or 1.40 euros. Anger reigned on the social network not only because of such a cumbersome rise in such a short time, but also because of the price that such a basic product could reach. “We are experiencing the perfect storm”Pepe Roig, manager of Asucova, the food delivery business organization in the Community of Valencia, has reasons for how citrus prices have skyrocketed in recent weeks.

While the weight of lemon can reach up to two euros in main markets, the weight of oranges varies between 1.10 and 1.30 depending on the type and quality of the product. According to farmers, field associations and distributors, several factors explain this wild increase. Aside from being the end of season for many citrus varieties and the low supply, one of the main reasons is the emergence of drought. not only in our country, but also in the world, It has drastically reduced production in countries like Turkey, Morocco, Greece or Egypt, where Spain imports a lot.

“The decline took place all over the northern hemisphere,” appreciates Cristóbal Aguado, president of the Valencian Farmers Association (AVA-Asaja), “But to all this we must add the substantial increase in light and pesticides, in some cases 300%.” this led to significant increases even in the “tree”, that is, in the price of the product after harvest.

Thus, according to the data of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, the farmer was paid 0.14 euros (unpackaged) per kilo of Navel type oranges in January 2022, and 0.31 euros this year, which is more than doubled. By the way, the price of lemon It rose from 0.18 to 0.35, an increase of more than 88.5%.

“The price has gone up, but the farmers are barely covering the costs. Packed to the destination, 65 cents more, so the total is around the euro. But on the shelves it is sold for 1.90 or 2 euros. speculation is brutal and some chains continue to acknowledge that profit margins have increased”, explains Antonio Moreno, UPA Minister of Agriculture, blaming department stores directly for this final price.

“Costs have increased along the food chain. Acknowledging that the cost of putting citrus on the shelves does not fall “below 70 or 80 cents per kilo,” argues Asucova’s president, we need to include processing at source, shipping, storage, packaging in stores, and distribution. It’s also a process that’s getting more expensive with the relentless rise in energy. “Moreover, the price increase in each link of the chain is greater than the increase in the final price of the product. The chain did not bypass the increase in costs”, the representative of the large Valencia chains points out once again.

The truth is that the farmer is still the big loser. “Ultimately, selling lemons is almost like exchanging money. He can barely afford the cost,” says Juan Alcón, a Murcili farmer who owns two hectares of lemon fields and also protests that the quality requirements applied in Europe do not apply to citrus fruits coming from outside the community borders. In addition, there are many variables that affect this year,” he says.

From UPA “It is true that companies play with needs, speculate on price and use products imported from third countries”, Thank you from UPA for explaining that France publicly discloses its profit margins, but not in our country. “There is no transparency.” According to Moreno, there should be a label describing the origin of the product so that the end customer is clear about what they are buying.

The latest report on Enhanced Monitoring of citrus imports by the European Union reveals that 76,843 tons of oranges were imported in the first two months of 2023 (January-February). 76.6% increase Over the amount calculated in the same months of 2022.

The situation is causing many farmers to see their crops as less and less profitable and to consider throwing in the towel. “He who has two-thirds of the usual harvest is doing well, but who even the shirt loses less than 40%”, adds Aguado from Asaja, like other experts he consulted, that the spike in the price of citrus in Mercadona was due to the previous variety being out of date and now being of better quality, and therefore much more expensive. “We’re just nearing the end of the season.”

Source: Informacion


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