La Unio de Llauradors has reported another case of consumer fraud, with the erroneous labeling of citrus varieties. This time it relates to Orri mandarins, for which citrus farmers pay the highest royalties, which are being sold in retailers as the Nadorcott variety. The association points out that Orri and Nadorcott are two different varieties that growers must pay plantation and commercialisation licenses to plant and market. The cost of royalties for producing and selling Orri are around €37,500 per hectare plus a fixed rate per kilo sold. Unlike Orri, Nadorcott is not a seedless mandarin variety and so is not as appealing to the consumer. Indeed, the price received by the Orri producer is currently €1/Kg, while for the Nadorcott it is €0.60/kg. La Unio believes this confusion is damaging the image of Orri and the sector as a whole and so demands the relevant authorities take swift action to end this malpractice.
Thirty years after it was founded, Fama S.A. now occupies a significant place within the production and exportation of fresh citrus from Entre Ríos and Corrientes, Argentina.
The company has 20 owners from three generations of fruit producers whose mentality is aimed at producing quality fruit.
Today Fama has 7,000 ha of citrus farms in the provinces of Entre Rios and Corrientes, with 50% oranges and 50% mandarins.
For the latter, the company has been making contracts to have exclusive, patented varieties such as Orri, of Israeli origin.
Commercial director Alberto Lavino Zona explained: “This enables us to be always a little ahead of our competitors. Also, at times when there is too much fruit, by having what nobody else has it is easier to sell it.”
He went on to describe the company’s strategy, which is based on three prongs: “Innovation in varieties, where we are entering the field of red Israeli varieties, which are very valuable and take five years to develop; we are not thinking of increasing the area but improving technology to get greater production per hectare and a better yield, making the work more effective; and having varieties the market seeks, thus being more competitive.”
Although the most significant market is Russia, which accounts for 50% of the volume exported, it is currently present in 30 markets and the idea is to continue growing and opening up new ones.
“What has differentiated us from our competitors is that we have always been opening up markets according to the type of fruit we produce and trying to maximise the value of each variety and each calibre.”
Interested in opening up the US market, Lavino Zona underlined the need to have the backing of the Argentine government to bring down tariffs barriers.
External shocks and adverse weather have rocked the export market for Israeli citrus, according to a report by the US Department of Agriculture.
The Israeli shekel has strengthened about 10% against the Euro in the last year, making Israeli citrus exports less profitable in the EU, a market to which two-thirds of its citrus exports go.
The Russian financial crisis is also hurting Israeli citrus exports. The rapid depreciation of the ruble against the shekel has brought trade to a standstill since February. And exports to Japan have also taken a hit due to economic slowdown there.
Israel is consequently increasing its exports to long distance markets, mainly South Korea, the US, and Canada, the USDA said. “However, these markets remain small with the US and the Canadian markets capturing 3-4% of the total Israeli citrus exports.”
Meanwhile, in January, about 6,000 ha. of citrus were damaged due to hail storms and winds estimated to have caused overall damage worth NIS 70 million ($17.7 mil) to Israeli agriculture, affecting thousands of acres of avocado and citrus crops and some row crops in the south. The citrus damage would have been worse if not for the protective nets used in groves. “Despite the weather disturbances, export quantity was not affected significantly and this is mainly to a good crop and that made up for the weather,” the USDA said.
Israel’s best seller in citrus is the Orri mandarin, an easy-peeler which accounted for about 40% of Israeli citrus exports (64,478 tons) in the 2014/15 marketing year and mainly goes to the EU and. “Orri is still profitable, but it’s just less profitable per unit than it could be and this is due to the weakened Euro,” the USDA said.
“Orange exports in MY 2014/15 have declined marginally compared to the previous two years because of strong domestic demand (see table). The decrease in grapefruit exports in MY 2014/15 is mainly due to the fact that about 1,100 ha of red grapefruit (star ruby and Rio-red varieties) were uprooted in the last 3 years due to low profitability,” it said.
Source: “External Shocks and Weather Conditions Challenging Citrus Revenues” a Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) report by the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS)
Image: “Lemon Orchard in the Galilee by David Shankbone” by David Shankbone (attribution required) – own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.