AALP class 17 left Seville the morning of January 15 heading to Sunaran Citrus Coop near the town of Palma De Rio. We were greeted by our tour guide Rosa for an informative tour of one of the biggest citrus coops in Spain. The coop consists of 98-100 members, all of which are farmer members.
The coop has 1500 acres of land growing a wide variety of orange variety’s with the main being “Salustiana” which is a juice press variety. Besides oranges they also do grapefruits with the main variety “Esta Red”.
On a yearly basis the plant handles 52 million kg of citrus fruits from October to July. After the fruit is received it is washed before three bins are examined and tested for weight and quality. Once cooled the citrus is once again washed, cleaned and dried. Before sorting the citrus is dried. Citrus is sorted based on size, imperfections and colour. Sorting removes the oranges that have visual imperfections and they are sent to be processed into juices.
Sunaran prides themselves on strict quality control. Parameters are met and measured every step of the process. Every product gets analyzed for a rating of juice and sugar content. If oranges arrive not fully ripened, they use ethylene gas to accelerate maturity. By controlling gas and temperature the oranges will change colour on the outside but change nothing on the inside.
In the factory there are about 200 workers and seasonally there are 300 to 400 extra workers in the fields. Many of the workers are from Poland and Romania. The oranges are sent to most of Europe but also China, UAE, Columbia, Korea and some to Canada. Canada receives about 200 containers annually with 21 pallets or 24,000 kg. The oranges destined for Canada take approximately one week from field to packaged and then two weeks of travel before arriving.
Following the tour, the class ventured to small, quiet town of Palma del Rio for lunch. The old city is walled using the cement style of the Muslim inhabitants, serving as a defensive point for the area until 1720. Shortly after, the Iglesias de la Asuncion was constructed. The visit was capped with a leisurely lunch at the former monastery, Monasterio de San Francisco.
Following lunch, the class ventured to Cordoba to visit one of Spain's national treasures, Mezquita. Tucked behind the 2nd century Roman walls of the UNESCO World Heritage City, Mezquita is a massive (understatement) former mosque now with a 16th century church rising up from the middle. The mosque was once the centre of western Islam that breathed math, art and philosophy into the region and was the heart of a cultural capital that rivalled Baghdad and Constantinople. Dating back to the 8th century, the mosque was influenced by classical Roman design and considered a wonder of the medieval world and a shining example of the Islamic Cordoba in its prime.
The AALP Class stayed overnight in Cordoba and made its plan to travel to Madrid the following day.