Grim days for Altea’s Cooperative in Costa Blanca

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NISPEROS: Altea’s principal crop. Photo credit: Linda Hall

THE Agricultural Cooperative, which the Costa Blanca town founded in 1948, has an accumulated €8 million debt and is beginning insolvency proceedings. The board has now suggested to members the possibility of continuing in smaller premises more suited to Altea’s current production. The Cooperative has 393 members, a far cry from its 50th anniversary in 1998 when there were 300 members from Altea, the Marina Baja, Marina Alta and Valencia province. Last year the Cooperative processed 2 million kilos of citrus fruit and nisperos (loquats), compared with 12 million kilos in 2010.

“The situation has been complicated for the last four or five years as we were maintaining a small business with over-large installations and very little money,” the cooperative’s manager, Manuel Delgado told the Spanish media.
“We were able to keep going but now the cooperative’s credit has finished,” he said. Last June when the time came to renew the credit, Cajamar, which the Cooperative founded as the Caja Rural de Altea in 1965, raised problems. The bank delayed the renewal and in Septemberlistedthe Cooperative as a defaulter, Delgado explained. The cooperative is now trying to refinance the debt with other banks and has “a huge number of meetings” with investors interested in buying its land and buildings. As well as the €5.5 million owed to the bank, the cooperative owes suppliers just over €1 million as well as another €1.5 to the working capital fund. Cooperative members are owed €800,000 from previous campaigns and 106 employees have been dismissed, with just 12 remaining.

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