Citrus fruits finally are being placed at the same level worldwide as other fruit categories, such as pears and apples, kiwis, and avocados.
At the recent Fruit Attraction show in Madrid, the World Citrus Organisation (WCO) was officially launched, giving producing countries a global platform to address challenges facing the sector and seize opportunities.
Led by AILIMPO, the Spanish Lemon and Grapefruit Interbranch Association, and the Citrus Growers’ Association of Southern Africa (CGA), representatives from Argentina, Chile, Italy, Morocco, Peru, Spain, and South Africa joined forces to help address the many changes experienced by the citrus market over recent years.
"It is important that the world citrus community works together to face common challenges and learn from each other," he said, adding that, leaving aside the competitive factor, it is essential to share information and experiences for the collective benefit of the sector, which is of key strategic importance for Murcia and for Spain," said Antonio Luengo, The Counsellor of the Region of Murcia.
Most recently the sector has been faced with significant issues regarding growth in production, overlapping of seasons, changing climate conditions resulting in varied quality and biosecurity challenges, increased competition within the citrus category and between other fruit categories and food products, as well as stagnating fruit consumption.
Specifically, the WCO said its mission will be to:
- Discuss common issues affecting citrus producing countries. Exchange information on production and market trends to prepare for the next decade to come.
- Foster dialogue on policy issues of common concern.
- Identify and promote Research and Innovation projects specific to the citrus sector.
- Liaise with public and private stakeholders on citrus-related matters to highlight the importance of citrus producers and the need for a fair return.
- Promote the global consumption of citrus.
During the official presentation in Madrid, the Director General of Agricultural Production and Markets of the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Esperanza Orellana, congratulated the citrus sector for the initiative, emphasizing the importance for Spain, leader in the production and export of citrus fruits, to be at the forefront of this project.
Freshfel Europe, the European Fresh Produce Association, whose Secretariat is based in Brussels, Belgium, will coordinate and administer the WCO. The next meeting, where the formalities for the foundation and future structure of the organisation will be formalized, will take place at Fruit Logistica 2020 in Berlin.