Mixed reactions to SA fruits export performance

The World Citrus Organisation (WCO) AGM reported that the citrus production in the southern hemisphere enjoyed a 9% increase in 2020 by 9.4 million tons. 

Eric Imbert from CIRAD in France said during the period 2016 to 2020, the southern hemisphere trade increased by 900 000 t. 

“Two thirds of the growth were from South Africa, 15% from Chile (mostly soft citrus), 14% from Peru (mostly soft citrus) and 4% from Australia (soft citrus and oranges). Uruguay and Argentina registered a reduction in volumes exported over this period.” 

For two weeks in a row, the fruits industry has downplayed its estimates for 2021 exports. Citrus Growers Association Justin Chadwick, said the soft citrus focus group was now predicting a lower export volume for 2021 – moving down from 30.5 million to 29.4 million cartons.

“The main reasons for this are rain disruption and uncertainty about new plantings in Senwes, and ongoing dry conditions in Patensie” he said. 

CGA also said that the grapefruit growers had increased packing early in the season so as to flatten the normal peak around week 21/22. 

Paul Makube, agri economist at FNB on the other hand added that Grapefruit had shown the biggest growth in exports with shipments for the YTD increasing by 43% y/y to 6.33 million cartons. 

“The total grapefruit volumes for week 20 were 1.46 million cartons which is up 23% on the same week in 2020. Major destinations for the YTD shipments were Europe.” 

Oranges exports followed closely coming at 1.33 million cartons, up by 24% year on year with the Middle East accounting for most of the bulk (45%) followed by Europe (21%), South East Asia (13%) and Russia Federation (8%).

Overall, WCO concurred that the dominance of southern hemisphere orange trade was indicated by the previous season with exports increasing by 53 000 t “1.7 times the average between 2015 and 2019.” The EU bloc and UK were the main drivers of these exports increasing by 95 000 tons. 

The continued demand of oranges in the European market showed that the current prices were hovering just below 80 Euros per 100kg “which is way below last year but still above the past 5-year average for this time of the year” said Makube. 

Asian and South East Asia apparently showed exponential growth in annual volumes of export with increases of 931% and 235% year on year. 

For the remainder of 2021, WEO anticipates that soft citrus and oranges southern hemisphere will increase by a further ‘200 000 t, lemons by 100 000 t while grapefruit will almost flat again.’ 

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