The rise and rise of South Africa’s soft citrus

Thu 09/07/2020 by Alexandra Sautois
The rise and rise of South Africa’s soft citrus © Eurofresh Distribution

South Africa’s tangerine/mandarin crop is projected to rise by 12% in the 2019/20 campaign, continuing the sector’s strong growth of recent times. Total production is estimated to reach 421,000 tons, mainly due to an increase in production area, normal weather conditions, and improved winter rainfall received in the main production area of the Western Cape. Moreover, many plantings are now reaching maturity. COVID had a minimal impact on labour supply.

South Africa’s tangerine/mandarin exports are expected to be up 16% in 2019/20 to 344,000 tons, due to increased production and the strategy of prioritising export markets over domestic markets. It is likely that COVID-19 has also driven demand due to the assumed health benefits of Vitamin C. Indeed, demand has been strong in the export markets, with the UK leading the way (26% of the total), followed by the Netherlands (21%), Russia (8%) and the US (6%).

Many new soft citrus orchards in South Africa are under netting to improve water efficiency, yields and the overall quality. In addition, there is an increasing trend to plant late varieties, which has shifted the peak harvest of soft citrus from the beginning of May to mid-May, continuing through to July.

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