A look at the global orange market paints a varied picture. Generally speaking, there seems to be no shortage of oranges in most production countries, though both South Africa and Spain had a delayed start to their seasons, which hasn’t done prices any favours. The effect of the Russian invasion of Ukraine is also being felt strongly, particularly on the European market, with countries like Egypt and South Africa turning to this market after losing their markets in Russia and Ukraine, increasing volumes and driving down prices. Logistics and the rising cost of living have also affected sales in some countries, but not all is doom and gloom for oranges; Italy has experienced a good season, as has France, whilst Australia may be on the brink of accessing new markets for its citrus.
Netherlands: No shortage of oranges
The sales of oranges are particularly quiet at the moment. "Apart from the lemons, this applies to the whole range of citrus at the moment," explains a Dutch importer. "At the moment there are still enough oranges from Egypt and Morocco on the market. There are quite a lot of coarse sizes from Egypt in the market, also because they are partially missing out on sales to the Ukraine and Russia. Spain is now sending the last Navel types and has started with Valencia. Spain has had bad weather and I can hardly estimate what impact this will have on the harvest, but it is of course never beneficial to the quality of the fruit. South Africa is also starting their harvest. However, we are reluctant to start because of the large supply, and moreover, the colour and taste of the South African oranges is not yet optimal. Only when they have a good colour and taste, will there be a market for them here. All in all, there is no shortage of oranges, and the prices reflect this."
Germany: Stable prices for different varieties
A wholesaler from Southern Germany is currently sourcing oranges from Spain, Egypt and Morocco. From Egypt he has juice oranges, while from Spain he offers navel and navel late oranges with juicy and aromatic qualities. The Spanish season started in November and is slowly coming to an end, while the Egyptian orange season began in week 18/19. He is currently able to market two to three tons of oranges per week, which are delivered by truck. In terms of prices, there have been no significant increases compared to last year, with about 0.10 euros more per kilo, according to the wholesaler.
Compared to last year, the average price in week 20 for the Lane Late variety from Spain has hardly increased in Germany with 98.00 - 115.00 euros per 100kg, depending on size. The same is true for the variety Salustiana with prices ranging from 98.00 - 113.00 euros per 100kg, with sizes 5/6 and 7/8 also being offered this year.
While at the same time last year no blond oranges from Israel could be offered, this year average prices of 136.00 - 178.00 euros per 100kg can be found for sizes 1-6. Spanish blond oranges, meanwhile, are at 100.00 - 115.00 euros per 100kg.
Italian Tarocco oranges have remained stable in recent weeks at 195.00 euros per 100kg for sizes 1-2 and 188.00 euros per 100kg for sizes 3-4. At the same time last year, this variety has not been sold. Prices for Egyptian Valencia Late also remained stable in Germany and range from 73.00 - 87.00 euros per 100kg, with a comparable price development to last year.
France: Good sales and stable consumption
The French wholesalers finished the Maltese orange from Tunisia at the end of April/beginning of May and followed up with the Valencia orange from Egypt. Today there are still some oranges from Morocco. The Spanish table oranges are ending and it is the turn of the late varieties. The orange from Portugal is also coming to an end.
There are many origins on the market at the moment but sales are good and consumption is stable. Prices for Valencia on the Rungis market are between 0.80 and 0.85 cents and the oranges between 0.60 and 1.30 euros.
Italy: Favourable orange season
In Italy, the orange season was generally favourable, with volumes that weren’t exciting, but produced above-average prices. Performance was positive both in the Jonian areas for the Navel varieties and especially for the blood varieties of the Piana di Catania. The Sicilian Valencia campaign was more subdued, and it is coming to an end in the next few weeks.
77.4% of Italian households bought oranges at least once in the last year ending in February 2022, according to the permanent observatory of the GfK Consumer Panel. The frequency of purchase is very high at 9.8 average acts per year per household, although this is down from last year (-4.5%) and two years ago (-7.8%). Households spend about €3 per buying act to purchase oranges (down from last year's peaks, but up significantly compared to pre-Covid: +11.8%) and the average purchase per buying act in volume is 2.23 kg (a fairly stable figure over the last 3 years). 18.6% of Italian households have bought organic oranges at least once in the last 12 months.
Spain: Tough season for Spanish oranges
The Spanish orange is now in the last stage of its campaign, with varieties such as Navel Powel, Navel Barnfield, Navel Chislett and the first Valencia oranges including Barberina, Mid-Knight and Valencia Late, which will last until the end of July.
The campaign started about a month late because Europe still had stocks from the Southern Hemisphere –mainly South Africa- until November. Growers had to sell their fruit and led by anxiety selling prices went down quickly. The orange yields have been high this year and the abundance of small sizes has also pushed and kept the prices down from the beginning. In general, it has been a disastrous campaign for the growers, with prices that didn’t reach the profitability levels. Many growers left the fruits on the trees as harvesting them meant losing money. In addition, the production of third countries from the Mediterranean area such as Morocco, Egypt and Turkey keep growing and so do their exports to Europe. The war between Ukraine and Russia and the logistic problems in East Asia have encouraged these countries to send even more fruit to the EU this year.
Meanwhile, pests and plagues continue to grow in the Spanish orange fields while the EU keeps banning phytosanitary products and doesn’t present efficient alternatives. Most of the Spanish growers and traders have borne the dramatic increase of costs while selling prices have dropped. As a result, Spanish citrus producers have so far experienced a 26% decrease in gross income in the 2021-2022 campaign over the previous campaign, which accounts for 618 million euro less. By citrus groups, the group of oranges (especially of the Navel type: Navelina and Lane Late) is experiencing the largest decrease in income, -58% and 361.4 million euro less in income. The prices paid to citrus growers in the fields have been very low. In fact, many of the late varieties were paid below 10 cents per kilo.
The total consumption in the European Union has fallen again by 3% over the previous year. In 2007, the consumption of oranges in Spain accounted for 15% of the total fresh fruit consumed, while in 2020 it had already fallen to 12%. In 2020, the per capita consumption of oranges in Spain stood at 17.35 kilos, i.e. 16% lower than five years before. In contrast, the consumption of products like avocados, pineapples, lemons, and bananas has grown the most.
Egypt: Egyptian oranges feel the effects of Russian invasion
The orange season is over in Egypt and it was a difficult season. Due to increasing costs and the war in Ukraine, demand was lower in some markets, while prices for the final product increased. Exporters were dealing with low demand in some markets, like the European market. This is due to the competition from Spain and the low price of Spanish oranges, compared to the price of the Egyptian oranges. There’s also low demand from China due to the local production of the Chinese citrus. The most difficult challenge to deal with is the Russian war against Ukraine, which has affected Egypt a lot, because the Russian market takes a lot of oranges from Egypt, meaning this war has affected their supply to the Russian market. Most of the shipping lines have stopped their services to the Russian ports and some of the exporters stopped their operations completely after the war started, as 80% of their production normally goes to the Russian market. The total quantity of oranges exported this year will likely be less compared to last year, because of these challenges.
South Africa: Late start and price pressure for South African oranges
The orange season has been running late, mostly due to rain, and the northern regions (Limpopo, Mpumalanga) are behind schedule in shipping navels (Valencias haven’t started yet).
In every production region an export increase in both navels and Valencias is expected, ranging from a slight increase in Eastern Cape navels to a jump of close to 1.8 million cartons in Valencias and a million cartons of navels in the northern areas.
The navel harvest is well underway across South Africa and a total navel crop of 28.7 million 15kg cartons is expected to be exported in total. In the Western Cape one grower notes that the yield is good, but sizes are on the small side. Most of the early navel crop has so far this year gone to North America (USA/Canada), followed by the Far East and South East Asia and the Middle East. Navels are unusually small in the Western Cape, peaking at count 88. Eastern Cape navel counts look better (counts 64/72).
A Valencia export crop of 58.2 million (15kg) cartons is estimated with the harvesting of the first Turkey and Delta Valencias starting in Limpopo Province from around week 23, peaking over week 30 to week 35. The northern parts of South Africa contribute most to the Valencia crop (whence 42.58 million cartons are expected, versus 40.856 million in 2021).
In the Hoedspruit region there is some concern (not universally shared) regarding uneven fruit set on seedless mid-season Valencias like Midknights and Gusocora, which is ascribed to temperature fluctuations during flowering and fruit set. Mid-season Valencias are primarily grown for China, the Far East and the Middle East. The orange market is looking relatively strong in the Far East with Egypt and the USA that ought to have exited by end of June, which will offer better opportunity for South African oranges, a trader specialising in the East says.
On the European market, a new cold protocol for South African and Zimbabwean oranges could inhibit the orange trade.
The Western Cape now concentrates on the USA and Canada with the expectation that California will end earlier, Morocco and Egypt’s increasingly extended orange seasons are reducing South Africa’s options and Russia’s logistics are definitely impacting on South Africa’s ability to ship early navels there.
In general, in-market prices on fruit are already under pressure and, says an exporter, certainly not compensating for the massive increase in freight costs.
China: Dramatically lower imports of Egyptian oranges
This year the import volume of Egyptian oranges is 70%-80% smaller than last year, with prices being pushed up on the Chinese market due to this smaller supply volume. The overall product movement of Egyptian oranges is rather slow.
The main buyers of Egyptian oranges in China are restaurants and beverage shops. First, they are not that eager to buy import fruit because the procedures and paperwork involved is rather troublesome. Second, beverage shops buy oranges to squeeze them for fresh orange juice, but the trend is currently for lemon-based drinks, so demand for oranges is limited. Third, supermarkets are not that eager to stock their shelves with Egyptian oranges. That is why product movement is slow. It is expected that the import volume of Egyptian orangs to further decline in the coming years. Egyptian exporters are currently looking for alternative markets, and Chinese importers are careful with the volumes they purchase.
This is the harvest season of the South African Navel orange and the product quality and production volume are both quite good. South Africa exports around 3,000 containers of oranges to Russia every year, but export to Russia is currently halted. China would only be able to absorb a fourth or a fifth of that volume at most, so the impact of this conflict on export to China is limited.
Domestically, at present, the navel orange market is in the period of variety alternation. The supply of navel orange in Lunwan, Zigui is reduced. Towards the end of the sales season, the Zigui summer oranges gradually enters the market. Due to the overall reduction of domestic navel orange supply and the rebound of the pandemic situation in many places, the market demand for navel orange in Lunwan, Zigui is strong.
North America: Rising cost of living affects orange sales
Supplies of oranges look steady right now, with one shipper in New Jersey saying that California is busy finishing up with production of Navel oranges and should wrap up by late June.
Meanwhile import oranges are also well underway. “We have seen a large volume arriving of Moroccan Navels and the last vessel with Maroc Navels is unloading this week,” he says, adding though that there will be one more vessel arriving early in June with Maroc Late oranges, a Valencia-type orange. Uruguay will also begin shipping next month and have supplies until September.
While Navels are in production right now, Valencia orange varieties will follow which include Cara Cara oranges, a type of orange that’s seeing increased demand from consumers.
As for the quality of the fruit? “Overall fruit quality, coloring and brix look good with early fruit peaking on the medium sizes. Larger fruit is currently scarce and this is expected to continue into early July,” says the shipper.
In terms of demand, while it’s steady for oranges, the shipper is starting to see some shifts in consumer consumption of the fruit. “Changes are developing as consumers try to figure out how to stretch the dollars due to inflationary costs and increase costs in all consumer areas,” he says. “The rising costs and the threat of lower consumer consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables is one of the biggest challenges.”
With regards to pricing, no clear market prices have been establish for Southern Hemisphere fruit. “There is a lot of pressure to increase prices due to rising costs and how successful these efforts will be is to be determined. With California finishing late June we should have a good opening for the orange market,” he says.
Looking ahead, the first Navels from South Africa are expected in mid-June and will go through to October. “South Africa is getting off to a slower start but overall Navel volume should be similar to last year,” says the shipper. Then in July, Chile will begin with its supplies which will also go through October.
Chile: Export campaign is at the starting line
In just 6 years, between 2015 and 2021, exports of Chilean oranges rose from 66,611 tonnes to 103,161 tonnes, an increase of 54.9%, according to statistics. At the moment, there are only days left until the Chilean orange export season begins with the first shipments, after a slight delay of one week compared to last year.
"In general terms, this year will be a complicated season for all citrus species", says an industry representative. "There is the issue of freight, which is much more expensive, and all the problems that go with logistics; in addition, the world has not yet recovered from COVID and its consequences. However, this season there is a greater availability of labour, which will facilitate the harvests as well as packing."
"Specifically for oranges, this year we are going to have less fruit than last season, approximately 13% less, and we are expecting to reach 90,000 tonnes of exports. The fruit is looking very good, with good sizes and with brix degrees in line with the period".
The main destination market for Chilean oranges is the United States. Europe has some very specific windows for Chile and Asia is not yet such a strong market for oranges. For Chile, China is a very new market that only opened up a couple of seasons ago and this year they have focused our promotional efforts in the country on lemons. However, Chile is not ruling out the possibility of including oranges in the promotions later on, when the logistical issue is solved.
"The North American market is also traditionally supplied from the Southern hemisphere with oranges from South Africa and Australia, although this origin is much stronger in Southeast Asia and China, due to their proximity. It is still too early to make forecasts about how the season will go and what the level of consumer demand will be; in recent years, COVID has increased the demand for citrus fruit a lot because of its vitamin C content during the pandemic, but we don't know how demand will react this year".
Currently in Chile there are around 6,300 hectares of orange trees planted between the IV and VI Regions. "Our export varieties are of the Navel type, although we also grow the Cara Cara, a very successful variety with pink pulp, to which around 500 hectares are dedicated in the country," they indicated.
Australia: Possible new markets for Australian oranges
The Australian winter citrus season is underway, with the supply of Navel oranges ramping up, with the major retailers selling the variety for between $3.50-$5 at the major supermarkets, which is obviously down from previous months to match the increased volumes with the fruit in-season. Earlier this year, an industry body said it was expecting a "reasonably large crop" in 2022, although there is a chance that there will be a slight level of marked fruit due to unfavourable weather events during the Spring growing season.
But there are also some very good opportunities, for Australian growers and exporters. Federal Government funding for a major project aimed at tapping into the Indian market with exports of high-quality oranges (and mandarins) should start in the coming months. The peak citrus body says with recent years of positive industry growth, it has meant there has been a number of plantings going into the ground, and significant volumes are expected in coming years, and the organisation has been seeking out new premium markets for Australian citrus and says the sub-continent presents a great opportunity. While there are also opportunities stemming from the United States citrus production possibly being a little shorter than normal this year, which could provide markets in Asia and other regions for Australian growers if they can get the fruit there given current sea freight challenges. The Australian industry currently exports up to $540 million worth of citrus around the world, and according to statistics, for the year ending June 2021, out of that total export figure $285.1million (172,416 tonnes) were from oranges.
Next week: Global Overview Sweet Potatoes!