Citrus plot

This story is just too juicy to pass up…

I would normally understand “citrus plot” to be a piece of land dedicated to growing oranges, grapefruit, and the like. However, in the past week, an Iranian official accused the opposition–it is soon to be voting season in Iran–of a “citrus plot” for having allegedly imported Israeli oranges into Iran.

But they were not actually Israeli. Nor was the Israeli fruit brand they were sold under that of an orange.

The fruits in question were imported into Iran from China, as the BBC notes:

It has now been revealed the fruit, a type of orange-grapefruit hybrid marketed as Jaffa Sweetie, were not Israeli in the first place.

The Sweeties were brought to Iran from China, where faking the origin of goods is a common practice.

The general manager of the Israel Citrus Marketing Board, Tal Amit, was no more amused than the Iranian officials, saying “it’s a bit annoying that somebody is using our brand name and registered trademark without our permission.” (Jaffa is a registered Appellation of Origin.)

The genuine Jaffa Sweetie commands high prices in Japanese and South Korean export markets, as well as in Europe. So someone in China was trading on the good name of this product by marketing another fruit as Jaffa Sweetie. And evidently blissfully unaware that this “good name” was not so good in Iran, where Israeli products are banned.

As photos accompanying the BBC story show, the boxes clearly show China as the place of origin, notwithstanding stickers on the fruits themselves that say “Jaffa Sweetie–Israel.”

But as we peel back the rind a bit farther, it turns out that the fruit in question is not an orange. And maybe not even an orange-grapefruit hybrid.

If it were an orange-grapefruit hybrid, it would be an orangelo, like the chironja (which I was able to taste some years ago at the Citrus State Historic Park in Riverside). However, one evident Nordic citrus-fancier suggests the ‘Jaffa Sweetie’ is not an orange at all. His photos certainly show a fruit that does not look like an orange(lo), nor like what is in the BBC photo. It seems that the Jaffa Sweetie is a grapefruit-pummelo hybrid similar to Oroblanco, but with a green skin, unlike the yellow-skinned Oroblanco.

So if the consumer (or the outraged Iranian official) knew his or her citrus, one could have told the counterfeit from the rind itself. Forget the sticker. Or the box. In any case, the counterfeiters did a really, really bad job all around.

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