Tjeerd Hoekstra, Total Produce BV:

"Overseas citrus increasingly a market of calculated buying"

The overseas citrus season started with a disappointing market for South African grapefruit, the market for Valencia oranges entering the European market at the moment is tense, whilst the lemons might not be making prices as high as they were at the start of the season, but they're still good. Commercial manager Tjeerd Hoekstra of Total Produce BV shines a light on the overseas season. "We see that the competing markets outside of Europe are here to stay. This development has been ongoing for a few years and isn't going to change. Where you used to be able to send product willy nilly, there is now much more need for calculated buying. There's no signs of a citrus shortage, but the ratios are different which is driving the prices up in Europe as well."

The overseas season was kicked off with grapefruit from South Africa, which started slightly later than usual. "The emphasis this season is on the smaller sizes, which is where there is the most price pressure, into which the larger sizes are being pulled as well. The quality is generally good, although the grapefruit is arriving paler due to the temperature regime related to the False Codling Moth (FCM). This is more difficult with grapefruit than with oranges for example," says Tjeerd. "The sales are unfortunately a bit disappointing. At the start of the South African season there was still a lot of fruit from Turkey, Morocco and Spain on the market, which didn't help sales. The price of grapefruit soon dropped towards 9-12 Euro. This is significantly lower than in recent years, although we do have extremely good years behind us. The supply is also 10-12% higher than in previous years, but there is still trade in its way and we still have around two months to sell grapefruit."

First oranges from Zimbabwe arrived

In the import of oranges the situation was comparable with a large supply of Turkish, Egyptian, Moroccan and Spanish oranges. The quality of oranges from these locations is now starting to decrease. There is a lot of bad produce on the market . At the same time the good quality is considerably better paid for with pieces of 10-12 Wuro for high quality Moroccan oranges, for example. A few weeks ago it was half that," says the commercial manager. "We will receive our first Valencia oranges from Zimbabwe this week. They are in the middle of loading up in South Africa. The expectation is that everyone will switch to overseas product and we are starting with prices around 12-13 Euro. The market for Navels hasn't been overloaded in recent weeks either."

"Last but not least we see a good market for lemons. The market started very high with prices up to 28 Euro. This was too much for the market, but the current price level of 20-23 Euro for South African lemons is still good. Strikes and arson attacks in warehouses in the Eastern Cape have lead to unrest and delays. Argentina has a regular lemon supply, which makes prospects positive, true to tradition the citrus consumption in the summer holidays is weaker, due to the competition from the summer fruit, but this is no different from other years. All eyes are on how we get through this season with the regulation of the Citrus Black Spot (CBS) and False Codling Moth (FCM), but thankfully there has been no alarming news in this front," concludes Tjeerd.

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

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