The combination of a lower orange supply in the Brazilian citrus belt (São Paulo and Triângulo Mineiro) in the 2018/19 crop, along with the recovery of Florida production, is keeping the Brazilian exports of Frozen Concentrate Orange Juice (FCOJ) Equivalent low. This season (from July/18 to March/19), Brazilian juice shipments to all destinations have totaled 783.4 thousand tons, 14% down compared to that in the same period last season, according to Secex.
Crop end – Fundecitrus (the Citrus Defense Fund) announced, on April 10, that the orange production in the citrus belt (São Paulo and Triângulo Mineiro) has totaled 285.98 million boxes of 40.8 kilos this season, 28.2% down compared to the output in 2017/18 (398.35 million boxes). Compared to the average in the last 10 years, the current production is 11.6% lower.
Lower productivity was triggered by the weather (heat and drought) during fruit development. Low supply, in turn, kept high the need of Brazilian processing plants for oranges in 2018, limiting availability in the in natura segment.
Market in April – The higher availability of early oranges in the 2019/20 crop pressed down the quotes of all varieties surveyed by Cepea in the first fortnight of April. With the maturation stage below that demanded in the in natura segment, trades were limited. Between April 1 and 15, pear orange prices averaged 35.17 BRL per 40.8-kilo box, on tree, 18.8% down compared to that in the first fortnight of March.
Tahiti lime – Tahiti lime prices have been firm in Brazil this year, which is not typical for a first quarter. Although harvesting stepped up (which is common for the beginning of the year, due to the crop peak), high demand for exports as well as from Brazilian processing plants is controlling supply in São Paulo State.
In this scenario, the average price in April (until April 15) is already the second highest for the month, in nominal terms, considering Cepea series, which started in 1996 for this product. The same was observed in the first quarter of 2019, when the nominal average in January was only lower than in Jan/18 and the nominal averages in February and March were only lower than in the same months of 2016 – tahiti lime quotes reached nominal records in Feb. and Mar. 2016 and in Jan. 2018, in the historical series.
Some citrus farmers accelerated the tahiti lime harvesting early in the year, aiming to prepare the trees for production in the second semester of 2019 (when prices usually rise).
In early April, according to purchasers, it was still difficult to find high quality tahiti lime in the in natura market. While mature fruits were missing, the new ones were still green – for that reason, harvesting was postponed. Higher quality fruits, in turn, were allocated to the international market. Thus, between April 1 and 15, tahiti lime quotes averaged 23.49 BRL per 27-kilo box, harvested, a staggering 63.6% up compared to that in the first fortnight of March.