US premium market for South African citrus

The cultivation of South African citrus, mainly easy-peelers, lemons and limes, is expected to continue to grow strongly in the marketing year 2019/20, based on the increase of the planted area, the improved yields, the high level of new plantations full production and the minimal impact of Covid-19 on labour supply.

South African citrus exports have risen sharply in 2019/20, mainly due to the health benefits of vitamin C in times of corona. However, the impact of Covid-19 on consumer incomes, restrictions on shipping companies and containers, and port restrictions remain concerns for South African exports as the pandemic worsens.

The duty-free citrus exports to the US under the African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) are expected to continue their strong annual growth as the US is still considered a premium market.

Citrus is grown all over South Africa, but mainly in the province of Limpopo, the Eastern Cape, the Western Cape, Mpumalanga, Kwa Zulu Natal, the North Cape and the North Western Provinces. In 2019, a total of nearly 87,000 hectares of citrus was planted in South Africa, an increase of 6% compared to 2018. This growth trend is expected to continue on the basis of significant investments and continued new plantings of mandarins, lemons and new varieties of oranges.

Limpopo Province is the largest citrus growing area in the country, accounting for 42% of the total planted area, followed by the Eastern Cape (27%), the Western Cape (19%) as the largest growing areas.

The Western Cape and the Eastern Cape have a cooler climate, which is suitable for growing navel oranges, lemons, limes and soft peelers. The provinces of Mpumalanga, Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal have a warmer climate, which is better suited for the cultivation of grapefruit and Valencia oranges.

Overview of the most common citrus varieties planted in South Africa.

Although oranges are the largest type of citrus grown in South Africa and account for 50% of the total citrus area, there is a marked increase in the area of ​​easy-peelers, lemons and limes. This growth is driven by attractive investment returns, the profit margins of easy-peelers and lemons and a spike in global demand.

USDA has prepared a comprehensive report (27 pages) containing detailed information on prices, citrus varieties, export data of all citrus varieties grown in South Africa.

Click here for the full report.

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