Citrus and fruit production is a major agricultural activity in all countries of the Eastern Mediterranean.
It constitutes a significant proportion of total agricultural production, it is a primary source of income to farmers and it holds a strategic position in employment, foreign trade and land development.
Furthermore, citrus are widely exported from the region and thus provide an important source of foreign exchange earnings.
Citrus exports from the Eastern Mediterranean have been increasing during the last few years, although exports from Cyprus and Israel have been stable, mainly because of water and labour cost considerations.
Today, average annual exports from the countries of the region are as follows:
||400,000 ' '
||400,000 ' '
||120,000 ' '
||1,130,000 ' '
The major markets for fruit and vegetables produced in the region are located in Britain and Northern Europe.
These countries consume on the average about 25 kg of citrus fruit per capita annually, all of which are imported.
Prior to the enlargement of the European Community from 9 to 12 members, the citrus trade with the Mediterranean countries was characterised by a relative advantage in favour of the exporters.
With the new membership, the EC no longer has a shortage of fruit.
It is not only self-sufficient but has excess production from countries within its own borders, which have lower transportation costs and also receive Community preferential treatment.
Mediterranean countries have been forced to constantly re-examine their transportation arrangements in order to reduce costs and be able to service the European countries, against the competition from countries like Spain or Greece which have a definite transportation advantage.
We all know that having the right product at the right price and the right time is not enough.
Also necessary is to have the product at the right place, and exporters must be familiar with the various transportation opportunities on offer, so that the most suitable choice may be made.