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AU: Citrus growers in "boom" period despite juicing shortage
Citrus Australia says that while the shortage of Valencia oranges is an issue for juicing companies, growers are actually going through a "boom", thanks largely to expanding export opportunities.
Chief Executive Judith Damiani says Valencia production in Australia continues its long term decline, due to the historically low returns for juice fruit and the 2016-17 Valencia crop was seasonally light. But last year’s record exports included Valencia up to December.
"Growers continue investing in more profitable varieties such as mandarins and navel orange for export," Ms Damiani said. "Export demand is very high particularly from Asia (China) but also emerging markets such as The Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. It's unprecedented in our industry."
She added citrus exports have been steady to good, with high demand from China and Japan, and orders right through to mid-October.
"As forecast, volumes are up on all varieties with some improvement in the expected fruit size," Ms Damiani said.
A few frost events occurred throughout the New South Wales growing regions during late June and early July, which was felt the hardest in the Riverina, while further south in Sunraysia and the Riverland, the frosts only caused a few minor issues to isolated low-lying blocks. However, Citrus Australia says it did not cause significant damage.
"There have been no reports from the market, but I understand some growers/some varieties have been affected by the July frost event, not widespread," she said.
Across New South Wales, Imperial Mandarins have been having another difficult season of high supply, placing pressure on markets. But Washington navel cropping levels have been higher than expected a third of the way through harvest and are at peak maturity with good colour and internal quality. The market continues to be strong thanks to the export programs.
Ms Damiani is hoping the trend continues with the launch of the 'Taste Australia' initiative earlier this month, which is the new horticulture export promotion platform, planning to grow exports by 2025.
"We are excited about the launch of Taste Australia – which will be on display at AFL Hong Kong, and look forward to rolling it out in future citrus export promotions," she said.
That event is the first in a six-month tour of trade shows in Dubai, Beijing, Shanghai and Tokyo.
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