The food safety policy that the European Union intends to apply in the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) 2023-2027, known as “from the field to the table” does not work in a broad sense in the citrus field. At least in relation to prices at origin. While Brussels advances in the clear information on the origin, content, labeling and use of food, prices paid to farmers plummet in this first part of the 2021/2022 campaign. Thus, oranges and mandarins increased their price by 1,293% from field to table over the past month of November (that is, almost 14 times), according to data analyzed by the Coordinator of Agrarian and Livestock Organizations (Coag).
The rate of purchase and sale of citrus fruits and the prices reached by these crops in the market are not being as expected At this time of year. The values are ruinous in some varieties of the first part of the campaign such as navelinas and some early mandarins (satsumas, okitsu, owari and clemenrubí, among others) and they have set off the alarm in the sector by paying in the field less than 15 Euro cents per kilogram (compared to 2.09 euros / kg in retail sales in stores). Currently, mid-season varieties are harvested, such as navelinas (prices range between 0.094 and 0.165 euros / kg) as well as clemenvillas (between 0.306 and 0.423 euros / kg).
What’s more, production costs have soared this year by around 30%, raising the costs of oranges to almost € 0.30 / kg, due to the increase in electricity, fuel, fertilizers and treatments that citrus growers have been forced to increase to try to stop pests and diseases. Since the beginning of the 2021/22 campaign, the average prices have been lower than those registered in the same weeks of the 2020/21 campaign, as well as those reached in the same weeks between the 2016/17 and 2019/20 campaigns.
The Price Index at Origin and Destination published by Coag shows that food of agricultural origin multiplied by 5.42 and livestock, by 3.20 from the field or farm to the final consumer. Orange (1,293%), lemon (960%), mandarin (840%) and garlic (803%) registered the largest price differences between origin and destination.
The low prices of oranges show that the objectives of the legislation are not reflected in reality And, for this reason, agricultural organizations demand that the Chain Law avoid abuses once and for all, preventing the production costs that are taken as a reference to set prices from continuing to depend on the bargaining power of each producer, but rather that it is a public body that fixes the costs in each link of the food chain. They attribute the “critical” start of the orange season to the substitution on the shelves of European supermarkets of local production by imports from third countries, mainly from South Africa, Egypt and Morocco.
Occupational diseases in the citrus sector
The Social Court number 10 of València has recognized shoulder tendonitis as an occupational disease for a worker whose activity is that of packing citrus fruits, according to CCOO. The ruling determines that, even though RD 1299/06 does not specifically include the diagnosis of calcific tendonitis, it can and should be assimilated to other damages contemplated in this rule. Performing repetitive movements in citrus stores is a “very widespread” occupational hazard and generates musculoskeletal disorders that can become disabling, according to CCOO.