EU-28 citrus production in the 2016/17 marketing year is likely to reach 11 million tons, meaning growth of 3.3% on 2015/16, according to USDA Foreign Agricultural Service analysts.
The small increase is expected despite an estimated 27% drop in production in Italy because favourable weather has made Spain likely to see a 20% boost in its citrus production, the new USDA report says.
However, due to lower Italian production, the EU-28 orange volume is forecast at 6 million tons, a 3% reduction on the 2015/16 marketing year (November-October). Notwithstanding, total EU tangerine production is predicted to rise 8% to 3.3 million tons, largely thanks to a 24% growth forecast in Spain.
And the lemon and grapefruit crops are forecast to rise 22% and 11.6% respectively, thanks to higher volumes expected in most EU-28 citrus producer countries.
A net importer of oranges, the EU-28 bought in 964,389 tons of oranges in 2015/16, up 4% on the previous season, though the value was down 1.8% to US $658.5 million.
South Africa and Egypt continued to be its top suppliers, followed by Morocco, Argentina and Uruguay.
The EU-28’s orange exports in 2015/16 totalled 319,080 tons, up 7.5%, and they went mainly to Switzerland, Serbia and Norway.
To compensate for the loss of the Russian market, the EU-28, led by Spanish producers, has reoriented their citrus exports to new markets such as Brazil, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia or China.
Spain – the EU-28’s top orange producer and exporter – markets most (92%) of its oranges within the EU but its exports to China have undergone significant increases in the last three years, totalling 10,010 tons for October 2015 to August 2016, a 246% increase on the previous year.