Citrus sales have been going very well in Europe thus far, with the exception of lemons (but even so, better than elsewhere).
An annoyance has been the simultaneous arrival of multiple boatloads of citrus due to port delays and it has caused some nervousness, particularly among traders, putting pressure on the European soft citrus market.
The navel market remains excellent and they’re expecting the same for Valencias, says Snyman Kritzinger, marketing director at Kirkwood-based Grown4U in the Eastern Cape.
“Europe has been good for us this season, consuming large volumes, in contrast to the depressed demand in the East. The upside there is that due to the lower amounts sent to the East, the market is strong and I’ve seen reports of some fantastic prices in China. There appears to be a shortage of citrus.”
They loaded their first fruit for China last week. Citrus from the Eastern Cape doesn’t have market access to the United States.
Superior Navel packouts mean more export cartons
Their navel volumes for export this season are more than last season.
“One of the big contributing factors to the higher export volumes is that whereas over the past two or three years you tipped navels and 40% had to be discarded due to blemishes and so on, this year the fruit is cleaner. So you’re tipping the same amount of fruit in the packhouse but 80% of it gets packed.”
The good size distribution on their navels (peaking on count 56) is facilitating work flow in the packhouse.
Smaller Midknights could limit Chinese sales
Next week the Midknight Valencia harvest will start, but the crop looks to be smaller in size than the previous two years which could be a limiting factor to Chinese sales. Lower available volumes in Chinese sizes could consequently be a boon to the Chinese Valencia market.
“I think what is different this year is that usually the interest from the traditional trading markets – Malaysia, the Middle East, and so on – is intense, and the result is that often too much fruit are loaded for those markets. This year interest from Europe is equally intense so we might see a better distribution of Midknights across Europe, Canada, the UK and the East.”
He hopes this will be the case, as it sustains markets for a longer period without any market coming under undue pressure.
Early late mandarins have fantastic eating quality
They sent very little Novas to China but late mandarins are early. He notes that the beneficial effect of covered orchards is evident in the packouts (right: a bin of Tangos).
“The eating quality is fantastic, it’s just early this year, perhaps slightly earlier than ideal.”
There’s been interest from the Far East, not traditionally a big late mandarin market for them; the markets in Canada, the UK and the EU are more competitive on price.
There are more late mandarins available this season and the larger sizes could make some Far Eastern sales a possibility. Two or three weeks ago the amount of Western Cape citrus trucked to Port Elizabeth and Ngqura harbours had an effect on operations, but not so much anymore. This year Eastern Cape harbours are running more smoothly than the 2019 season.
“In times like this we’re very grateful to be in the citrus industry. Consumers buy our product, the harbours in the Eastern Cape are functioning. The impact of Western Cape fruit trucked to these harbours was more pertinent two to three weeks ago. It doesn’t have a tangible impact at the moment on our exports.”