Fruit is being left on the trees

Local farmers are getting only five euro cents a kilo for their oranges, compared to an average of 30 cents over the previous two years. Farmers put the blame on a variety of factors including bumper crops, pressure by supermarkets who force down prices to the grower, lack of interest in converting the fruit into juice which absorbed a large part of the excess crop, and competition from the Peninsula, where the crop of citrus fruits has also been very good this season. In the past, the farmers had been receiving up to 30 cents a kilo for the fruit and 20 cents a kilo for the excess sold to make juice. This is a far cry from the situation last March, when Fruita Bona, the only company authorised to accept excess oranges for juice with European subsidies, was boasting that the excess crop had been reduced from one million kilos to 100'000 kilos. This had been achieved by installing 200 machines for making fresh orange juice in bars all over the island and also with the collaboration of El Corte Ingles and Miret, who purchased oranges (usually the small ones which did not have much acceptance with the public) for making their own brand orange juice. And in view of the increase in prices received, many abandoned orange groves had been receiving attention again. Now, however, the fruit is being left on many trees as collecting it costs more than the end price. Majorcans consider that the local oranges, particularly those grown in the valley of Soller, are the best in the country, which is why they usually command a higher price than other oranges in the markets. But this difference in price is not reflected in what the farmers are paid. Last month, the clementine growers were also threatening to leave their crop to rot as, although they were paid 15 cents a kilo, after discounting expenses, they were left with just five cents.

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