On 12 May 2021, the World Citrus Organisation celebrated its first Annual Meeting online, following the official creation of the organisation last year. During the AGM, the WCO Secretariat presented the consolidation of the production and export forecasts for the forthcoming Southern Hemisphere citrus season 2021. This preliminary forecast is collected from member industry associations in Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Peru, South Africa, and Uruguay.
The WCO held its Annual meeting ending a first year of activities. The Co-chairs of the association, Jose Antonio Garcia (Ailimpo) and Justin Chadwick (CGA) agreed to state: “The full first year of operation allowed the organisation to quickly build a representative association and provide the benefits and value to the members”.
During the meeting, the preliminary forecast presented shows that the 2021 citrus Southern Hemisphere crops is expected to reach 22.7 million tons, which represents an increase of 3.18% compared to the 2020 crop. Export is expected to increase by 12.72% to 3.8 million tons. Philippe Binard, Secretary General of WCO stated while presenting the data : “Following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, a positive trend of consumers’ demand for fruit and veg was noted, in particular for citrus fruit, widely recognised for its high nutritional value, notably in terms of vitamin C content. The large volume available is positive news as it will meet the increased demand”. On the processing side, a total of 13.4 million tonnes of citrus are expected to be destined to the juice market, which constitutes a slight increase of 1.26% compared to the previous year.
It's worth noting that Brazil’s data provided for the forecast remains preliminary, with the official Brazilian data expected to be confirmed in the coming weeks. By citrus categories, the soft citrus showed the greatest increase in production, by 10.57%, with a significant increase in export volumes of over 20% to 1 million tonnes of export. Orange production remained broadly stable (+1.93%), whilst lemon (+2.37%) and grapefruit (+6.44%) showed greater increases.
Exports are also expected to increase for all varieties, orange (+11.55%), lemon (+7.20%) and grapefruit (+9.56%). Eric Imbert (CIRAD- Technical Secretariat of WCO) indicated: “The Southern Hemisphere citrus export continues to grow in particular for lemons and easy peelers. The Southern Hemisphere today represents 27% of the global citrus market.” During WCO’s AGM, members also reviewed the past season’s results with a focus on the impact of the covid pandemic, and analysed the estimations for the current season.
In addition, during the meeting, Natalia Santos, Deputy Secretary General of WCO announced: “Members decided to set-up a formal working group on health & nutrition. This will enable better knowledge exchange among members on citrus nutritional assets and will also contribute towards a better understanding of the health attributes of citrus. The first meeting of the focus group will take place in the second semester of 2021”, she added.