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Uruguay: Citrus demand increases by 14%

In 2016 Citrus exports increased by 14% in volume and 13% in dollars when compared to the previous harvest, the director of agricultural services of the Ministry of livestock, agriculture and fisheries (MGAP) and advisor for citrus cultivation of the MGAP, Federico Montes, stated.

This year, Uruguay exported 108,900 tons of citrus fruit, while in 2015 it only exported 95.500 tons. This year's turnover amounted to US $82 million, against the US $73 million achieved in 2015.

Exports mainly increased because of the markets' high demand, the increase in orange exports, and the dynamics of some markets, Montes stated.

The European Union (EU) continues to be the main destination for Uruguayan citrus with 40% of this year's total exports. It was followed by Russia and the US , with 17% each; Brazil, with 9%; Saudi Arabia, with 6%; Canada, 5%; and the United Arab Emirates, with 2%.

Montes highlighted that the growing participation of the Saudi and Canadian markets, which only accounted for 1% of the export share a few years ago. He also underscored the strength of the Russian market and the growth in exports to the US.

Uruguay exported 43.961 tons to the EU; 18.185 tons to Russia; and 18.058 tons to the US.

The campaign had a bad start and a good ending
Montes recalled that the 2016 season had not had a good beginning because of the excessive rainfall there was in March and April last year, which especially affected the early Satsuma and Clementine mandarins. "The rains burst them. It was a very painful moment and we had problems delivering quality fruit to the markets," Montes said.

The bad weather conditions decreased production volumes and caused economic and financial problems to the companies, making it very hard for them to harvest and comply with their orders; something that changed during the second part of the harvest.

Producers had a happy ending, as the harvest was higher, both in volume and in revenues, than in the previous year.

Looking forward, Montes said they had a great opportunity lying ahead, as the Chinese market had approved the entry of Uruguayan fruit.

"It's a challenging market, where the Uruguayan citrus industry has a new world to explore," said Montes, adding that they had to discover China's potential.

On the other hand, he called for "further strengthening the US market, which was reopened for Uruguayan citrus fruits in 2013, as well as the new markets in Russia;" an allusion to their supermarket chains.
In 2016 citrus production grew by 4% over the previous year, and it is in full conversion.

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