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South Africa's Citrus Export Season Is About To Open With The Latest Production Forecasts

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The South African citrus export season will open later this month, the Citrus Growers Association (CGA) said recently. From the statistics so far, most South African citrus varieties have maintained steady growth this season, with exports of lemons, navel oranges, Valencia oranges and grapefruit expected to increase by 4%. 

 

South African lemon exports are forecast to be 32.3 million boxes (15kg/box) this season, an increase of 1.3 million boxes compared to the previous season. Young trees in the Senwes region of the Western Cape and Limpopo are starting to bear fruit, contributing to the increase in production. However, cooler summer temperatures may result in smaller fruit in some areas, impacting on the total volume for final packing and shipping. 

 

Navel orange exports are expected to be 28.7 million boxes, an increase of 1.5 million boxes compared to last year. Although hailstorms in areas such as the Midlands in the Eastern Cape have reduced production, sufficient rainfall in areas such as the Sundays River Valley has increased local exports of navel oranges by 9 per cent. 

 

The forecast for exports of Valencia oranges is 58.2 million boxes (15kg/box), up 3.2 million boxes from 55 million boxes last season. However, depending on market conditions at the end of the season, final shipments could be lower, especially as the narrowing market window will make exports at the end of the season difficult. 

 

Grapefruit exports are expected to reach 14.8 million cases (14kg/case), but a number of external factors could have an impact on the final figures. As Russia is one of the main export destinations for South African grapefruit, coupled with rising fuel and transport costs, PP grade and category 2 grapefruit for export processing will not be exported, all of which will result in lower final export figures. 

 

The forecast for South Africa's soft citrus exports is not yet available and the CGA has indicated that it will be released on 14 April. South African soft citrus exports have increased 3.5 times in the last 10 years, reaching a record 30.9 million boxes (15kg/box), or approximately 463,500 tonnes, last season. 

 

The CGA says the South African citrus industry provides 120 000 jobs and brought in more than R30 billion a year last year. At the same time the industry faces a number of challenges, with soaring cost prices including fuel, fertiliser and freight, extensive procedures to access overseas markets for the product and ongoing operational challenges at South African ports, all of which pose a threat to the profitability and sustainability of South African citrus growers. 


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