The Soller cooperative is looking to alternative markets for its produce.

07-03-2005Lluc Garcia

Despite a good harvest of oranges and lemons, there is concern that it will not prove to be as profitable as might have been hoped.

A key reason for this concern is the EU reduction of the tariff on South African imports. Allied to this are retailers' purchasing decisions. It is more profitable to buy in from Valencia and also South Africa at prices below those in Majorca. The manager of the Asaja agricultural businesses association, Joan Simonet, describes this as a "chain reaction", the consequence of which is that local producers will have to cut their prices.

One of the largest orange producers is Son Frau de Dalt, which has fincas in Inca, Marratxi and Sencelles. Francisco Català observes that last year they had to export to the mainland because of a lack of local commercialisation, e.g. supermarket purchasing. Market forces are leading to a loss of producers, with the Soller Valley remaining an exception.

Over the past ten years, the amount of land devoted to citrus production has gone down by some 800 hectares. Figures from the environment and agriculture ministry suggest that there are now 1,354 hectares being used.

In Soller, the president of the Sant Bartomeu Cooperative, Miquel Gual, is less concerned. He acknowledges that it is normal for producers to be worried, noting that the cooperative has been unable to sell some ten tonnes of clementines this season. These will instead be used for making marmalades.

Gual accepts that there is a reduction in prices. In response, the cooperative has been opting to sell to alternative markets given that, for example, its prices are some 25 to 30 cents higher than at Mercapalma.