South African volumes going to plan

Lemon shortage caused by short Northern Hemisphere supply

Current Harvest volumes are following the initial estimates, according to figures published by the Citrus Growers Association (CGA) South Africa. The main difference from last year is, of course grapefruit which suffered from hail and the intense heat earlier in the year.

The grapefruit season is also running late as growers wait for the fruit to colour-up. This is creating good demand and market prices. Lemons are also in big demand on the various markets, although this is not due to a reduced crop as estimates are of an increase of one million boxes from South Africa.

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"We have sent more lemons into Europe than we have in previous years to date and so have Argentina, who are getting back to normal volumes. The reason for the big demand is probably more due to an early stop of the Northern Hemisphere supply with both Spain and Turkey stopping earlier than normal," explains Justin Chadwick from the CGA. "We are actually ahead of previous years."

The extra million boxes from South Africa will not have a influence on prices in Europe as only a small portion of that will find it's way into Europe.

Generally all markets are retuning well at the moment, but there are concerns that the Far East may become oversupplied as other producing countries reach full production.

Russia received it's direct shipment of South African citrus last month, but according to Justin people are generally cautious going into this market as the economic situation is still unstable. "South African volumes going there last year decreased quite a bit, we will see how it pans out this year. Exporters will see where the best returns can be had. Russia has been a high returning market in the past."

The satsuma harvest is finished, most of which goes to the UK, which has been good this year. The clementine harvest is around midpoint and seems to be going well.

Most of the soft citrus is grown in the south of the country so was not affected by the heat and drought conditions, so sizes and brix are normal.

It is still early in the Navel season but it also seems to be progressing as normal with estimates of 25 million cartons.

The EU has also reduced restrictions on CBS for this season, there is no longer the five strikes then an imposed import stop rule as in previous years. More countries will also be controlled.

"The five strikes rule was arbitrary and unscientific and has been done away with now, interceptions will still be investigated to see what went wrong in the screening process. Uruguay and Brazil will also be controlled but other big exporters are still not on the list,' explained Justin.

"All in all the citrus season is looking promising just 6% off the volumes from last year which is mostly down to the decrease in grapefruit. The markets are all looking good just now, we just have to make sure we continue to supply the markets with volumes and quality to maintain those prices."

For more information:
Justin Chadwick
Citrus Growers' Association
Tel: (+27) 31 765 2514
Fax: (+27) 31 765 8029

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