Lemons doing well

Middle East: Difficult market for South African citrus

The South African exports of Navels and early Valencia oranges to the Middle East market has not gotten off to a good start. According to David Pearce from G.F. Marketing, South Africa, there were a couple of reasons for this, firstly the Egyptian Valencia season was late which meant that when the South African fruit arrived the market was already full, added to this was the low colour of the SA Navel oranges from 2 of the main producing regions.

It was expected that the Egyptian Valencias would be gone from the market by mid July, but it seems it will be more like the end of August before the market is clear. David says the only thing to be done is to assure customers that the South African fruit is now full colour and of high quality and keep competitive on pricing.

Shipments being sent now will coincide with Ramadan and David is optimistic about the next four weeks, when South Africa will be the only ones with Late Navels and prices should increase. Navel orange prices this season started at $2 less than last year and then took an unexpected dip due to the poor colour fruit not being well received in the market.

At the moment Navels are selling for around the USD 8.50 FOB mark for a15kg carton of class I, size 72-88, the current actual selling price in the market is 40-43 Dirhams (Dubai), which is less than cost price.

On the other hand lemons are doing very well, 45% of South African lemons go to the Middle East, and they are in short supply, selling at $13 FOB for popular counts. South African did well from the start because the markets emptied of Turkish lemons sooner than normal due to the conflict in Syria and the trucks not being able to get through from Turkey.

Soft citrus has also been going well in the Middle East market and overall citrus grower returns have been buoyed this season by a good exchange rate for the South African Rand, this will help to compensate the lower US$ selling prices for Navels and Valencias.

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