South African grapefruit exporters can be quite content this year, with volumes packed for export -at 15.9 million cartons (17-kg equivalents)- almost up 16% on last year’s 13.7 million cartons. According to the Citrus Growers’ Association, this is due to the recovery from the dry conditions experienced in the northern areas, last year.
The mid-March estimate anticipated the crop would be similar to the 2018/2019 season. The final volume packed came to 15.5 million cartons.
The biggest producer, Letsitele, at 4.4 million cartons, was 12% under the estimate. Hoedspruit at 3.9 m cartons was 1% under, while Onderberg, at 2.5m, was 2% over. Limpopo River with 1.3m cartons was 8% below the estimate, while Oranje Rivier (1.3 m) was the closest, recording just 4 000 cartons under.
The EU remains the largest market for southern African grapefruit – importing some 85,000 tons. China imports have increased from 50,000 tons in 2020, to 76,000 this year. Japanese imports also increased, from 25,000 tons to 28,000 tons, just ahead of Russia (19,000 tons in 2021).