It brings together nine of the main citrus fruit producers in the Algarve, which, between them, produce more than 30 tonnes of these fruits per year, which represents XNUMX% of the Algarve's production. The AlgarOrange association was created last August to «enhance, enhance and defend the Algarve's citrus fruit», but also with the aim of consolidating the internationalization of this sector.
Cacial, Frusoal, Frutalgoz, Frutas Martinho, Frutas Tereso, Machorra e Filhos, Parafrutas, Matinhos and Frutas Lurdes Guerreiro e Filhos are the founding members of the association, which was made known during the Orange conference XXI, carried out within the scope of more a Silves Capital da Orange Show.
According to José Oliveira, from Cacial and president of AlgarOrange, the primary objective of this association is “to promote the union and organization of the citrus sector”, in the region.
«The individual interest of each producer can be linked to the collective interest. I think that there is already a maturity in the sector that allows us to achieve this goal, although it is not easy», he declared.
“Each one of us thinks, given the knowledge or potential he has, that he is capable of selling better than everyone else. This is not true. What we are doing is fighting and harming each other», stressed José Oliveira, during the Laranja XXI conference, that the Sul Informação followed.
The chairman of the board of AlgarOrange says he is aware that “our path is not easy. In this way, in a first phase, we want to enhance what unites us».
And what unites the Algarve's producers is, from the outset, the desire to do good business. Thus, the bet of these nine producers was to join forces to promote the Algarve citrus fruit abroad, to try to enter other markets or consolidate their presence in countries where they already have customers.
For this, Algarorange has already submitted «an application to CRESC Algarve 2020, with a view to internationalization».
This proposal also has a component aimed "inside the Algarve", since it includes promotional actions for citrus fruits in the Algarve "near the hotel industry", in order to "bring our product to tourists from abroad".
"We are also going to be present at the main international fairs and bet on the Canadian market", which is seen by citrus growers who are members of the association as having great potential.
José Oliveira stressed that “joint marketing is still something that is far away”, but that it is something that the association “does not remove from its horizon”.
He even gave as an example the successful experiences of apple growers in Alcobaça and Pêra Rocha. «Did it take time? Sure! But they got there».
One of the issues to be resolved, before taking the risk of taking a step towards this joint marketing, is linked to the Protected Geographical Indication for citrus fruits in the Algarve, recognized by the European Union since 1996. This certification, managed by Uniprofrutal – Union of fruit and vegetable producers in the Algarve, but it has not brought, in José Oliveira's view, the desired advantages to producers.
"We don't want to replace Uniprofrutal, but we are willing to sit down at the table with them to reach an understanding," said the also leader of Cacial, the former Producers Organization – now cooperative – that promoted the creation of the IGP.
Basically, the producers who joined AlgarOrange, want to «have a say in the promotion and management of this brand».
José Oliveira believes that if there were more producers to bet on obtaining this certification, it would bring great advantages. "The enhancement of this brand is the enhancement of our marketing capacity".
And the PGI is not "a closed brand", even though it obliges producers "to comply with the specifications", particularly in relation to the varieties used.
“Over the last three years, an average of 10 tonnes of PGI citrus fruit were produced. That's nothing, it's a drop of water in the production we have in the Algarve», he illustrated.
Also open is the AlgarOrange association that is willing to welcome more producers. "We have not yet approved the internal regulation [the association's governing bodies were elected in September], but as soon as it exists, whoever wants to join will be able to make a proposal, which will be analyzed in the light of this regulation", assured José Oliveira.
Who has no doubts about the importance of this new organization is Pedro Valadas Monteiro, regional director of Agriculture and Fisheries of the Algarve, who wished that AlgarOrange, «within a year, represent not only 30%, but 50 or 60% or more of the production that takes place in the region».
Also Miguel Freitas, Secretary of State for Forests and Rural Development, who helped to inaugurate the Mostra Silves Capital da Laranja, made a point of praising “this new wave of organization of the Algarve citrus fruit producers”.
The member of the Government, who is from the Algarve, knows this sector well, bearing in mind that he was the Algarve's regional director for Agriculture between 1996 and 1998, when the IGP for citrus fruits in the Algarve was recognized.
“Producers began to realize that it's easier to do together than alone. And this is very important. This new association, AlgarOrange, is an initiative that seems to me to be positioned in the right place, so that, together, we can make approaches, both in the internal and external markets», considered Miguel Freitas.
AlgarOrange in Numbers:
– 9 Producers
– 495 workers
– 6100 hectares of production area
– 100 thousand tons of production/year
– 72 million euros of turnover/year
– 17,4 million euros in exports