Australia’s orange exports for 2015/16 are forecast to reach a record of 190,000 tons – up 31% on the previous season – due to increases in production and demand and lower tariffs in key markets such as Japan and China, according to a new GAIN report. The citrus industry is one of Australia’s foremost horticultural industries and the largest exporter of fresh fruit, it says.
Australia’s citrus industry is export-oriented and has a competitive advantage in Northern Hemisphere markets such as Indonesia, China (now Australia’s third-largest citrus export destination), Japan, Korea and the US. As these exports are counter-seasonal, they do not compete with locally produced fruit.
In recent years, the US has become a less important market for Australian citrus exports, which have refocused on Asia.
Last year, Australia’s newly-signed free trade agreements with China, Japan and Korea were ratified with significant benefits expected for citrus exporters which may now be more competitive with US citrus exporters into these markets, GAIN says.
Citrus imports into Australia
Australia imports fresh oranges over its summer season, when there is no domestic production. Fresh oranges are predominantly Imported from the US. Australian growers previously had a dominant share of the US market for imported out-of-season navel oranges (from May to September). Sales peaked at 30,000 tons in 2007 but have dropped to under 10,000 tons due to the strong Australian dollar and significant competition from South Africa, Chile and Peru in the US market.
Australia’s 2015/16 fresh orange harvest is forecast at 455,000 metric tons, slightly above the previous year. Good seasonal conditions and improved access to water irrigation in recent years have supported production.
The main Australian orange varieties are Navel and Valencia, with the former usually sold fresh and 90% of the latter used to produce juice. In the last decade, growers have continued to switch away from Valencia oranges and towards Navel oranges and mandarins for the fresh fruit market.
source: USDA GAIN report AS1530, Australia Citrus Annual 2015, January 12, 2016