The oranges produced in Sagada are known to be delicious and very popular to customers but recent reports reveal that many of those marketed as “Sagada oranges” are actually produced in China.
In fact, a report by local newspaper Midland Courier newspaper of Baguio City dubbed these oranges as among the “Mislabeled of the Year”. The newspaper believes that it is unethical for the merchants to change the name of or market the products from China using a popular local fruit as that would surely confuse unsuspecting customers.
Many tourists and travelers who really had no idea what the difference between the locally produced Sagada oranges and the China-grown “Sagada” oranges were duped into buying the counterfeit ones.
Merchants had been taking advantage of the tourists’ ignorance especially during the Christmas season when plenty of travelers hit the road and went to top vacation destinations such as Baguio City where most of the fake “Sagada” oranges were sold. Moreover, with many Filipinos still following the tradition of serving round fruits for the New Year’s Eve feast, even more were duped by the counterfeit items.
Adding to the increased sales of these fake oranges is that fact that these were much larger yet also much cheaper than the original Sagada oranges so that buyers thought they were getting a better value for their money.
Sister Mary Teresita Ante, RGS, of the Good Shepherd Convent in Baguio City revealed that most, if not all, of the vendors across the city were marketing the China-produced oranges as “Sagada oranges”. She had personally seen these re-branded oranges sold at the public market, Mines View market, and in front of tourist spots such as the Mansion House, Wright Park, and even outside the gate of outside the gate of the Good Shepherd Convent.
Spot the Difference
According to Ante, the real Sagada oranges are actually more expensive than the China ones. Also, there would be more fresh leaves with each fruit sold. Moreover, the color is less bright orange, the rind thinner, and the skin tighter. However, those descriptions were subjective and could easily confuse someone who is not very familiar with the real Sagada oranges or haven’t seen one before.
Many of the vendors are also selling just one type of oranges so that there was no way that one could compare the two products, hence most of the buyers don’t really know the difference, and prefer the larger, brighter, and less expensive choice. After all, these were marketed with the same name.
There were also accounts of apples from China being sold as fresh produce from Sagada; although most reports were about oranges which had been more popular.
The country’s Department of Agriculture (DA) were actually the ones who created the unique variety which would be later known as the Sagada orange. It was first propagated in Kalinga but it was in Sagada that the fruits truly gained their legendary status for being “giants” among the oranges.
The local farmers were quick to adapt and grew these oranges at a commercial scale. In 2000, orchards had produced so much fruit that these were delivered in several “jeep-loads” and sold in the markets of Baguio. Tourists and locals were all in awe of these giant fruits and the name “Sagada orange” soon became another popular “pasalubong” from Baguio when in season.