USDA GAIN report

Australia’s fresh orange production forecast at 500,000 tons

Australia’s fresh orange production is forecast at 500,000 metric tons (MT) in 2018/19, down 3 percent on the estimate for the previous year. Australia is a counter-seasonal exporter of mainly navel oranges to north-Asian markets such as China and Japan while the United States exports navel oranges during Australia’s off-season.

Post forecasts orange exports at 215,000 MT, down 6.5 percent on the estimate for the previous year because of lower production. Orange juice production, mainly from Valencia oranges, is forecast to decline by 7 percent in 2018/19 while total imports of orange juice and orange juice concentrate are forecast to be stable.

Citrus production is a major horticultural sector in Australia and a leading export product. Orange producers dominate the citrus industry and are located along the Murrumbidgee and Murray Rivers in the Riverina, Sunraysia, and Riverland irrigation areas of New South Wales (NSW), Victoria, and South Australia. These regions produce both eating (navel) and juicing (Valencia) oranges. The Central Burnett region in Queensland produces mandarins, lemons, and limes. There are also smaller citrus plantings in Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

While export demand for navel oranges has increased, producers have faced higher costs for irrigation water. In November 2018, the total amount of water stored in the Murray Darling Basin’s dams dropped below 50 percent compared to over 70 percent at the same time last year. For most citrus producing regions, such as the Riverina, producers have faced drier than average conditions and higher temperatures, with a similar outlook forecast for the period to January 2019. A number of frosts have occurred throughout all of the orange growing regions throughout the winter period. However, the effects of the frosts were minimal and caused only slight fruit damage in scattered areas.

Post forecasts Australian domestic orange consumption in 2018/19 to be stable at 245,000 MT, the same as in the previous year. Navels oranges are generally large and seedless and mature earlier than other oranges. Domestic sales are usually made directly to large supermarket chains or through central fruit markets. Citrus consumption usually increases from June to August each year.

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