Photo: citrus of Mexico, exporter of the chinese market
China’s fresh citrus production and consumption are forecast to continue their upward trends in 2020/21, reaching 35.6 million tons and 34 million tons, respectively, according to FAS/Beijing data. However, the rate of production growth is expected to slow as prices drop and consumer demand reaches saturation point. Demand for imported citrus in 2020/21 is expected to remain low due to the economic downturn, down 25% overall from pre-COVID levels. There are also lower imports of frozen concentrate orange juice and production, indicating consumers’ changing preferences to juices made from fresh fruits. Chinese countermeasures for COVID-19 will continue to add complications and costs to all cold chain imports, including citrus.
Fresh orange imports are projected to grow slightly in 2020/21 to 290,000 tons, as the Chinese economy partially rebounds while local citrus supplies will depress import demand. Major suppliers remain Egypt, South Africa, Australia, the US, and Spain. China's total imports of fresh oranges dropped dramatically in 2019/20, due to the sudden increase in freight costs and labour impacts of COVID-19. Before the pandemic, China’s orange imports had witnessed seven consecutive years of growth. Imports from all sources fell Egypt (-41%), South Africa (-15%), Australia (-37%), and Spain (-80%).
Meanwhile, China’s orange exports are expected to increase 5% y-o-y to 55,000 tons, thanks to restored logistics, the increased crop size, and rebounding economies. 2019/20 exports totalled 52,000 tons, with Vietnam accounting for 60% of the volume. Other export destinations for fresh Chinese oranges are the Philippines, Malaysia, Russia, Hong Kong, and Thailand.