Mandarin crop may be depleted by increased demand from fresh sector Premium for Spaniards despite Chinese supply An increase in the production of Chinese mandarin oranges has been welcomed by European importers, who have switched some of their requirements from Spain. Although the Spanish crop may be depleted this year, due to an increased demand from the fresh sector, overall there should be plenty to go round. Sources in Murcia told The Grocer: "We are going to find it hard to get lower field prices with such an interest from the fresh buyers." The threat from China was discussed on the grounds that none of the factories have yet been approved by UK private label buyers. This should enable Spain to command a nominal premium on the opening price equivalent of 1,200 ptas from China. Last year Spain opened at 1,300 ptas so negotiations are likely to start at similar levels. Sales of mandarins have been steady over the last couple of years but if an opportunity exists to stimulate promotional activity, no doubt it will be taken ­ to liven consumer interest. l Israeli grapefruit canners are being severely hit by labour and distribution problems due to the current conflict in the Middle East. Canners rely heavily on Palestinian labour, which, as is known from daily press reports, must be a problem as freedom of movement is often restricted. Similarly, transportation of fresh fruit is curtailed most of the time, making production planning a nightmare. After production, getting finished goods to the port is not easy but, in spite of these hazards, the industry is optimistic that it will achieve sales similar to last year. Alternative production from Turkey is being stepped up to meet a possible shortfall in Israel, whilst reports from Swaziland say that production is being doubled, but this is some months away. A healthy demand still exists for canned grapefruit as consumers prefer the flavour and ease of use to that of fresh. {{CANNED GOODS }}