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Tjeerd Hoekstra, Total Produce Rotterdam

"Europe will remain an important market for South African citrus"

The focus is currently on the failed Navel crop in this South African citrus import season. "At the moment, this has meant a loss of 100% of the export volume for some farmers in the Eastern Cape. In the Western Cape, 25 - 30% of the product has been lost. Overall, it has been a traumatic event for growers, whose fruit lies split on the ground", says Tjeerd Hoekstra, Commercial Manager of Total Produce Rotterdam.

A Navel farm in the Eastern Cape

All this is ensuring good prices for oranges from overseas, with other citrus products are also priced well. "There are fewer grapefruits being sent, and this reflects in the prices. Prices have been good since the beginning of the season and with a level of between 17 and 19 cents, remains on the high side", says Tjeerd. "The citrus season started late, but, so far, there has been a larger volume sent to Europe than in the same period last year. Current prices, at a level of 23 - 25 cents are good, but are lower than expected. Expectations are high after the good prices in recent years. This will come to an end as the increased planting of these crops cannot sustain the price correction. This also applies to the Nadorcott mandarins, where there have been many trees planted, but the prices are still good at the moment.

According to the importer, the European Market will remain an important buyer of South African citrus. "It is noticeable that the volume is increasingly being spread to other continents. Markets like China, Japan, Korea and India are increasingly demanding trade and are now major customers of the South-African product. In global terms, there is more demand for the South African product. This puts more pressure on the European supply. Prices obviously play an important role. It is interesting that there is a big demand from the market for organic citrus. The demand exceeds the supply. We are trying to play our part in this, but it is a challenge to find the volume of organic citrus to fill the market's needs."

In one of Laeveld Sitrus' warehouses

The measures that needed to be taken to prevent Citrus Black Spot over the past few years, seem to be a thing of the past. "South Africa has invested heavily in control systems, which has significantly reduced the number of interceptions. The favourable climate conditions certainly contributed, but the South African sector has delivered an excellent performance", says Tjeerd.

"In the case of the African fruit moth, new EU regulations are expected to be implemented by the end of November 2017. A systematic approach to the control of the occurrence of the organisms during production and harvesting to prevent product contamination during transport means cold-treatment can be prevented. The producers and exporters as well as the importers will have a role to play in this."

For more information:
Tjeerd Hoekstra
Total Produce BV
Tel: +31 10 244 84 14

Publication date: 6/19/2017


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