AU: Citrus exports to top $250m, oranges, mandarins boom

The orange harvest has seen solid volumes, as expected, off the back of strong numbers in exports, and enough good quality fruit for the fresh market, according to those in the industry. Navels have performed well in particular, with strong exports to China and the US thanks to a more favourable AUD. Valencias are in abundance, with a good sized crop and no significant quality issues, however demand for them remains soft, says Murray Valley grower Vince DeMaria. 

The soft demand is due partly to consumers turning away from orange and other fruit juices over sugar content concerns. 

Australian exports for citrus were up 28%, and oranges themselves increased 20%, to 114,195, or a 71% share of total citrus exports, during the nine months to September 2015. 

New figures will be released by Citrus Australia in coming weeks, and they are expected to show exports capped out at more than $250m, up from just $202m in 2014, according to Citrus Australia’s Andrew Harty. Oranges and mandarins will make up the bulk of that, and China and Hong Kong have seen the biggest increases, according to him. 

The weather was kind for the most part to growers, however some orchards experienced losses. “Where we are on the Murray River near Mildura, our volume is hard to calculate because we got severely hailed out, but only about 10% of this area was affected,” says Mr DeMaria. “Every year someone, somewhere gets hurt by mother nature, but overall there seems to be a renewed buoyancy among those in the industry.” 

Water cost will be the biggest issue for growers next year, Mr DeMaria says, because costs are already rising, and water use is up in anticipation of a dry summer. “There’s a lot of strong competition from almond growers too. People with highly profitable citrus varieties will buy more water, but those that have only marginally profitable crops, or who experience quality issues will probably choose not to buy more.”

The Citrus industry is responding to the market as demand switches in favour of more fresh eating alternatives from valencia oranges, including seedless mandarin varieties such as the Afourer, Mr DeMaria says. “Some growers across Australia had planted valencia trees based on contracts to supply juice, and with those ending, there’s a lot of top grafting happening to meet demand for popular new varieties.”

For more information, visit the Citrus Australia website:

Or contact:
Vince DeMaria
Sunraysia Citrus Growers
Phone: +613 5023 8205

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