The mango harvest was looking good when it began at the end of August, with an estimated 32,000 tonnes to be picked, an increase of 28% compared with last year despite the drought. However, the COAG and UPA associations are complaining that the price the growers are being paid for the fruit is “laughable”. They are receiving between 20 and 25 céntimos per kilo, while supermarkets are selling the mangos on for around four euros a kilo.
“The drought and the calima (airborne dust from the Sahara desert) in the spring affected the growth of the fruit, so they are a bit smaller this year and the big stores are taking advantage of that by paying less even though the mangos meet all the criteria for quality and safety,” explained Antonio Rodríguez of the COAG in Malaga.
Antonio Portillo, who grows mangos in the Axarquía, pointed out that the distributors are paying less for a difference in weight of only 50 grammes and this is not only an abuse but is cheating farmers and consumers.
“The problem is that there is nobody to control this, so they are able to pay a euro for a mango in 2021 and 25 céntimos for the same mango in 2022 and then sell it for four euros. There is nothing to justify this” he explained.
The general secretary of the UPA association in Malaga, Francisco Moscoso, agreed. “There is no difference in quality in a mango which weighs 200 grammes and one which weighs 300. Smaller ones are also excellent, but consumers have been taught to want big, glossy, shiny fruit. The stores are taking advantage of this as an excuse to pay growers less but they sell the fruit for a lot more, boosting their profits while we are facing ruin,” he said.
The UPA is also calling for the Law of the Food Chain to be applied in full as a matter of urgency.
“If they would just apply this law properly it would solve this serious problem of them paying so little to producers. We have to guarantee a fair price above the cost of production because otherwise we will have to stop growing mangos and then consumers will only have imported fruit to buy, which will be lower quality and an even higher price. And we will see our rural way of life ruined and our villages depopulated little by little, because we will have been forced to take that action,” Moscoso said.