Field prices for kaki fall below production costs

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VALENCIA FRUITS.

Kaki, a crop that offered until now acceptable profit margins, faces a difficult season this year due to plummeting rates at origin

kaki

Kaki prices at origin plummet. / Archive

Kaki, one of the few crops that offered until now acceptable profit margins for growers, faces an extremely difficult season this year due to plummeting rates at origin. So much so, that the Valencia Farmers Association (AVA-Asaja) claims that since kaki cultivation started a new and fruitful era in its history after implementing development of innovative post-harvest techniques on the brilliant red variety about twenty years ago, for the first time, field prices are below the costs of production.

Thus, and according to the agrarian organization, the offers that producers are receiving these days hardly exceed 0,18 cents per kilo, when the cost that the farmer has to face to produce that same kilo is around 0,22 cents. Far from being isolated cases, this downtrend of prices has become widespread in all kaki producing areas, before a sector that looks astonished and with growing concern upon this trend change, whose ultimate causes do not respond to the internal logic of the market.

AVA-Asaja highlights that what is happening this year with kaki prices does not correspond to a disproportionate increase in production, something that usually forces prices at origin down. In fact, the current harvest volume is similar to that obtained the previous year, and therefore remains at around 300,000 tonnes. Until now, the market had channelled this volume in profitable terms for the different agents that intervene in the process, from the producer to the trader. Good proof that the objective conditions of the market have not varied from one year to the next is that consumers continue to pay the price for kaki within a range that varies, depending on the different distributors or shops, between 1,45 euros/kilo and 2,25 euros/kilo, that is to say, that the retail price is still the same with regards to previous years, but the rate the grower is receiving has been reduced drastically. To confirm this, it is suffice to recall that the value at origin reached by kaki for the last three years has exceeded 0,30 cents/kilo, which in relation to this year’s prices means a drop of 40%.

The president of AVA-Asaja, Cristóbal Aguado, points out that “the pitiful situation that is being created around kaki is completely artificial. It is not acceptable that consumers pay the same as other years, while producers see how their prices fall below production costs. We do not exactly know if what is happening is motivated by the excessive selfishness of certain companies or by the incompetent management of others, but what we do know is that a ruinous field price is being abusively forced upon growers without any objective cause in the market to justify it”.

For this precise reason, the head of the agrarian organization AVA-Asaja, calls on all kaki producers “to remain firm and not give away the fruit, or be deceived by the songs of mermaids and interested voices, because there is a demand, because the production is similar to the one obtained in other years and because if we stay firm, prices at origin will unavoidably have to overcome this plight”.