Barranquilla – Agrícola RioFruta with 300 hectares located in the Brazilian regions of the Valle de San Francisco and Rio de Janeiro produces citrus for exports and a small amount for the local market. In 2001 began with livestock and exports of melons but the difficult conditions on these products in Brazil (production costs, imported raw materials and unfavorable exchange rate) force a strategic change to, in 2004 on, exclusively plant and produce citrus.
Citrus production has been affected worldwide, even in Brazil. However, RioFruta has been successful thanks to the strategic conditions of its production environment. Plantations from RioFruta are not located at the traditional zones of citrus in Brazil (Sao Paulo). Therefore, they have not been affected by the climate disruptions and they are naturally protected of pests and diseases that traditionally affect the plants from Sao Paulo.
Currently, RioFruta sums up 120,000 plants of citrus with different ages (between 6 months and 4 years) and expect to reach a maximum of 150,000 plants. The maximum production is expected for the 7th year when production could reach the 7,000 tons. Another strategic change by RioFruta has been the conversion to late varieties. According to João J. de Sá “competition in the Southern hemisphere has its maximum dimension in July, all countries export and prices are very low. On the other hand between August and September when late varieties appear, benefits are better.” The varieties from RioFruta are 40% Navel Lane Late, 20% Deltas and 30% grapefruit Star Ruby, all of them for exports, other varieties are for the local markets.
In exports, RioFruta has developed contacts in the US and Europe (Spain, UK and Holland) from its time as melon exporter. The idea now is to increase the markets, specially to potential markets in Russia and Eastern Europe. In fact, this block represents the fourth major consumer of citrus worldwide. For 2008, when the next citrus campaign starts, RioFruta will have the EurepGap certification as an addition of its adaptable strategy.