Mediterranean overproduction set to rise Tough times lie ahead' in citrus The Mediteranean citrus industry is expecting "tough times ahead", admitted Celestino Recatalana, president of Intercitrus, Spain's representive organisation for oranges and easy peelers. The problem is overprodution, expected to rise throughout the region which supplies the community with its winter crop, so growers are increasingly turning to Eastern Europe. Spain enjoyed a respite last year when the crop only reached around three million tonnes, but this season it is back to its more normal five million tonnes (including lemons) which longer term could expand to seven million. An indication of what may become commonplace has already been evident. Growers' prices for clementines are down by comparison with 1998 by a third to 50/60 pesetas per kilo. Oranges such as Navel and Salustianas show a similar drop to 35/40 pesetas. It comes at a time when the traditional pre Christmas peak of harvesting is only a fortnight away. Apart from more fruit, Recatalana says the UK orange market has been sluggish, although easy peelers are still doing well because of consumer preference. "Our quality because of rains in September and then low temperatures has meant there is larger fruit and colour is excellent," he said. "But demand is slow because the winter has been a long time coming in Northern Europe this year when sales always improve." Longer term, he adds, the Spanish citrus industry must continue to develop more quality varieties and extend the season past February for easy peelers, and April for oranges. This year Intercitrus has established a long-term promotional levy paid between growers, packers, Fepex, the government backed promotional organisation, and the regional governments of Valencia and Andalusia to boost both EU sales and emergent members. The total buget being collected will be in the region of 600 million pesetas. {{FRESH PRODUCE }}