The 2022 citrus export season is kicking off later this month and a number of citrus growing regions across the country predict good export volumes. An estimated 4% growth in exports across all citrus varietals is expected.
This is good news for the South African economy in light of the local industry sustaining 120 000 jobs and bringing in R30 billion in export revenue last year alone, Justin Chadwick, CEO of the Citrus Growers’ Association of Southern Africa said.
“However, several challenges facing the sector… continue to threaten the profitability and future sustainability of growers.
“[These] include: soaring input costs including fuel and fertiliser price hikes and a major increase in freight rates, red tape hampering access to some overseas markets, as well as ongoing operational challenges at the country’s ports,” he highlighted.
In order for the industry to continue on the upward trajectory it has enjoyed over the past few years, government and stakeholders across the value chain needed to work together, Chadwick cautioned.
This will ensure that operational capacity and efficiency at the country’s ports are improved, as well as secure, maintain, and retain as many market access opportunities as possible.
Key markets that offer major potential for expanded access and require particular attention during the coming season are the United States and India.
“This is the only way the growers will be able to offset increasing input costs that are squeezing their profit margins and for the industry to remain competitive, particularly considering local production is expected to grow by another 300 000 tonnes over the next two years,” Chadwick said.
Estimates for upcoming season
The current prediction is that 32.3 million (15kg) cartons will be exported to key markets, which is an increase of 1.3 million cartons when compared to 2021.
Young trees beginning to bear fruit in some regions including the Western Cape and Senwes in Limpopo will contribute to this growth. However, a cooler summer could result in smaller fruit in some regions, which could impact the final number of cartons packed and shipped.
Current predictions show a 1.5 million increase in (15kg) cartons of navels that will be shipped during the coming season, with 28.7 million cartons expected to be exported in total.
While hailstorms in some areas such as the Eastern Cape Midlands resulted in a decrease in predicted estimates, good rains in other areas such as the Sundays River Valley means this region should enjoy a 9% growth in navel export volumes.
An estimated 58.2 million (15kg) cartons of valencias is predicted to be exported in 2022, which will be a 3.2 million increase from the 55 million cartons shipped last season.
However, the final number shipped could decrease depending on market conditions towards the end of the season, in particular narrowing market windows which could make it difficult to ship remaining volumes.
An estimated 14.8 million (17kg) cartons of grapefruit is predicted to be exported during the upcoming season. However, a number of outside forces could negatively impact this total including the Russian war on Ukraine due to Russia being a major importer of South African grapefruit.
Furthermore, should fuel and shipping costs continue to escalate, PP fruit that is sent for processing and Class 2 grapefruit will not be exported which will also reduce the final export total.
- CGA will release the mandarin estimates around 14 April 2022
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