Exports to new markets on the up

South Africa: Tough citrus season coming to an end

South African oranges have a week or two of export to go this season, this will amount to between 50,000 and 60,000 tonnes mostly of Valencia.

Total citrus exports to Europe have been affected by the Citrus Black Spot issue, and are down 14%. Both Valencia and navel volumes decreased by 14%; while grapefruit volumes decreased by 33%. Soft citrus volumes to the EU increased slightly (2%) while lemon volumes increased by 29% (in 2013 very little lemons were exported to EU). The total volume of South African citrus exports to all markets was down just 3%.

Of the total exports worldwide, grapefruit was down 16%, navels down 1% and Valencia down 5% while lemons increased by 22% and soft citrus increased by 15%.

The decreased volumes to EU were taken up by Asia, where total volumes increased by 29% (from 240 000 to 315 000 tons). Grapefruit volumes to Asia increased by 10%, lemon and soft citrus volumes doubled while navel volumes increased by 44% and valencia’s by 15%. Middle East (330 000 tons), northern America (105 000 tons) and Africa (15 000 tons) export volumes all remained static. Similar to the EU, Eastern European volumes also decreased – by 10%; grapefruit down 10%; navels down 31%; soft citrus down 13% and Valencia down 4%. Lemons increased by 2%.

South Africa stopped packing for the EU at the end of week 36 (except for Pest Free Areas and soft citrus); PPECB figures show that 12% less oranges have been shipped to EU (since end week 36) than during the same period last year.

Justin Chadwick, CEO of the Citrus Grower's Association said he would not like a repeat of this season; "If there are any more requirements put in place from the EU we will be out of the market."

He commented that the pre-screening which has been put in place to screen the citrus before the official inspections by the authorities was very good but also very expensive and he is not sure if it would be cost effective in the long term.

Other markets are available for South African citrus but as the EU has been the biggest market for so long it is not easy to just put all that fruit into another market.

South Korea, for example, has doubled the volume this season compared to last, Chadwick said this is a very good market, "Grapefruit first gained access last year and lemons and oranges can also be sent there, but we must be careful not to flood the market. We will try and match supply with demand next season."

Asia as a whole imported 29% more citrus from South Africa this season, this is attributed to the rising middle class and developing relations and a recognition of the quality of South African citrus according to Chadwick.

There is of course competition from other Southern Hemisphere countries, Australia for one has the advantage of being closer to the market, but Chadwick says that South African can compete on quality and price.

Publication date:

Receive the daily newsletter in your email for free | Click here

Other news in this sector:

Sign up for our daily Newsletter and stay up to date with all the latest news!

Subscribe I am already a subscriber