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New start for Harvest Season and garciaBallester in Asian citrus market

New start for Harvest Season and garciaBallester in Asian citrus market
Credit: Press release

An event held on 12th February in Palma del Río, Córdoba, makes official and consolidates the alliance between Harvest Season and garciaBallester. The two large companies, leaders in the business, are now united in achieving the same goal: to become leaders in the Asian citrus import market. garciaBallester’s own facilities were chosen as the ideal setting to seal the union between the two companies. 

Representatives and senior executives from both companies were present from the beginning, with garciaBallester represented by Jorge García (CEO), Jorge C. García, (management coordinator), Lucas (Asian export manager), Miguel Meliá, (GB Palma del Rio’s packhouse manager) and Stephane (sales director), and Harvest Season represented by Tony Zhang (general manager).

The event started with the reception of both parties in garciaBallester’s facilities, and later on they went out to the fields.  Once in the field, which was also in the middle of the orange season, the union between both companies was formalised. To do this, a customised pickaxe was used as a symbolic element to announce their commitment to a new era in the citrus market in Asia. Later, attendees were treated to a guided tour around garciaBallester’s facilities. 

The highlight of the event was the cutting of the opening ribbon, where Harvest Season and garciaBallester celebrated their new chapter together. They were able to share new ideas and also to answer questions from the invited press. The event demonstrated successfully how to start this new stage for Harvest Season and garciaBallester.

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World orange crop slumps

World orange crop slumps, Source: USDA FAS


The world’s total orange production for the 2019/20 season is projected to drop 11% to 47.5 million tons due to unfavourable growing conditions in Brazil, Egypt, the European Union, and Morocco, according to USDA data.  As a result, consumption, fruit for processing, and fresh exports are also expected to plummet.

Brazil’s production is forecast to fall 22% to 15.1 million tons due to weather-related problems (warm temperatures and below-average rainfall after the first two blooms and fruit set). Oranges for processing are down 3.9 million tons to 10.4 million, while fresh orange consumption is lowered to 4.7 million tons, the lowest in 4 years. 

In contrast, China’s orange crop is estimated to climb slightly to 7.3 million due to favourable climatic conditions. Imports are up 3% as consumer demand is rising for premium, high-quality oranges.  Egypt and South Africa are the top suppliers to China, accounting for over 70% of imports.

US production is forecast to rise for the second consecutive year, albeit only by 1% to 4.9 million tons. Consumption, exports, and fruit for processing are all expected to be up in line with the larger crop.

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Citrus losing primacy in global fruit trade

Citrus losing primacy in global fruit trade

As the fruit sector diversifies, citrus is coming to play a smaller role. While Spain dominates the citrus trade overall, African and South American countries are coming to play a greater role in certain regions.

Between 1980 and 2016, exported volumes of fresh fruit increased from 23 to 87.5 million tons (+193%). While the growth in total fruit exports (+280%) outstripped growth in production (155%), the opposite is the case when we look at the citrus category, where production increased by 139%, but exports only rose by 133%, from 6.9 to 16 million tons. The shrinking role that citrus has come to play in the global fruit trade is highlighted by the fact that its share of world fruit exports plummeted from 30% in 1980 to 18.5% in 2016.


Oranges and grapefruits
losing their shine

When we examine the breakdown of the world’s citrus trade, we find that oranges and grapefruits have seen their share drop, while soft citrus and lemons now play a larger role. While in 1980, orange exports accounted for 59% of all citrus exports, by 2016, their share had fallen to 43% (6.8 million tons). Over the same period, exports of grapefruit registered a fall in their category share from 12% to 7% (1.1 million tons in 2016). In contrast, soft fruits almost doubled their share of the category’s exports, rising from 15% to 31% (5 million tons in 2016). Similarly, lemons saw their share of citrus exports rise from 14% to 19% (3.1 million tons in 2016).


Spain dominates
citrus export markets

The world’s number-one citrus exporter remains Spain, but the picture has shifted somewhat over recent decades. Spain leads the way in exports of orange and soft citrus, and is second only to Mexico in lemon/lime exports. The Spaniards’ greatest rival is South Africa, with the major Southern Hemisphere player leading the way in grapefruit exports, ranking second in oranges, and fourth in soft citrus and lemon/limes. 


Leading orange exporters

In 2017, Spain, with 1.8 million tons, accounted for 27% of the world’s orange exports, well ahead of South Africa in second place, with 17% (1.2 million tons), followed by Egypt, with 10% (660,000 tons), Turkey, with 9% (621,000 tons), and the US, with 8% (570,000 tons), according to COMTRADE data. Spain dominates the world’s soft citrus category, too, accounting for 22% of all exports. Some way behind Spain lies China, in second place, with 10% (494,000 tons), followed by Turkey, with 9% (454,000 tons), South Africa, with 4% (201,000 tons) and Israel, with 2.6% (129,000 tons). 


Leading lemon/lime exporters

As for lemons and limes, in 2017, Mexico was the world’s largest exporter, with 24% of the market share (730,000 tons), followed closely behind by Spain (22%), with (690,000 tons), Turkey, with 15% (450,000 tons), and South Africa, with 9.5% (300,000 tons). The grapefruit segment sees South Africa out in front, with 20.5% of global exports (227,000 tons). The other major grapefruit producers are all in the Northern Hemisphere. Close behind South Africa comes China, with 17.5% (192,000 tons), followed some way back by Turkey, with 11.5% (127,000 tons) and the US, with 7.7% (85,000 tons).


The surge of
South American citrus

In recent times, South American producers have grown in prominence in the global citrus trade. Peru’s citrus exports have rocketed 380% in the last decade, while Chile’s are up 200%. Meanwhile, Egypt and Pakistan recorded 175% rises, and China and Turkey’s citrus exports have doubled. In volume terms, Turkey has seen the largest rise over the last ten years (+800,000 tons), followed by Spain, Egypt and China (+450,000 tons). 


Europeans prefer oranges,
Japanese prefer soft citrus

Demand for citrus varies greatly from region to region. The EU has the largest per capita consumption of oranges (8kg per year), while the Japanese consume less than 1kg per year on average, according to Freshfel data. However, in terms of soft citrus, the Russians (5.8kg) and the Japanese (5.2kg) lead the way, while Europeans consume just 4.6kg per capita. The North American consume the most lemons, with Canadians purchasing 2kg and US consumers 1.9kg of the fruit each year. As for grapefruit, Canadians once again lead the way alongside EU consumers (1.04 kg), with Russians consuming just 0.4kg of the fruit each year.


Russia is world’s number-one
citrus importer

EU countries import the largest volumes of citrus (including intra-EU trade), accounting for 45% of the world’s imported citrus volumes. However, the single country that imports the largest volumes of citrus is Russia (9.6%). While demand for citrus is growing worldwide, the picture is varied in different regions of the world. If we compare the 2005-07 average total citrus import volumes with the 2015-17 average, we find that the greatest proportionate increases have been recorded in Middle Africa (+1461%), Southern Asia (+372%), and Central Asia (+304%). In volume terms, over this ten-year period, demand for citrus has risen most in the EU (6.5 to 7.2 million tons, +10%), followed by Russia (1.0 to 1.5 million tons, +54%), North America (0.94 to 1.46 million tons, +55%) and Eastern Asia (0.86 to 1.1 million tons, +29%).


Chinese market dominated
by soft citrus

As the world’s largest citrus market (34 million tons), it is worth examining trade data for China. The Asia giant produces 34.1 million tons of citrus for the fresh market, of which soft citrus represents 62%, oranges comprise 21%, grapefruits account for 13%, and lemons constitute 4%. China is a net exporter of citrus (933,000 tons shipped abroad in 2017), with the main destination markets being Vietnam (17.6%), Russia (16.4%), Thailand (14.8%), the EU (11.8%) and Malaysia (10.6%). China’s imports of fresh citrus have steadily increased over the past ten years, from 560,000 tons, in 2008, to over 1 million tons in 2016. The main overseas source of citrus for the Chinese market is South Africa (35.9%), followed at some distance by the US (19.7%), Egypt (17.4%) and Australia (14.7%).


EU looks to South Africa
for citrus imports

Turning to the EU citrus market, the Europeans consume 11 million tons of citrus. Oranges account for 57% of the total (6.2 million tons), soft citrus represent 28%, lemons constitute 11%, followed by grapefruit (3%), and lime (1%). While citrus imports from outside the EU have fluctuated over the past ten years, largely in line with variations in European crops, they have tended to remain between 2 and 2.4 million tons per year. The major source of non-EU citrus is South Africa (653,000 tons), followed by Egypt (331,000 tons), Argentina (221,000 tons), Morocco (204,000 tons) and Turkey (186,000 tons). The share of non-EU imports represented by lemons (17%), grapefruit (14%) and limes (6%) is greater than their share of intra-EU trade, while the reverse is the case for oranges (42%) and soft citrus (21%).


Russia and the Gulf record
rises in citrus imports

Russia’s fresh citrus market consisted of 3.9 million tons of fruit in 2017. The category is divided between oranges (37%), satsumas (30%), lemons (14%), clementines (12%) and grapefruit (7%). The country’s citrus imports climbed steadily between 2004 and 2013 (from 0.82 to 1.68 million tons), before falling off slightly. The major supplier of citrus to the Russian market is Turkey (38%), followed by Egypt (16%), Morocco (15%), South Africa (9%) and China (8%).

Taking the Gulf market as a whole, citrus consumption climbed steadily between 2012 and 2016 (from 1.6 million tons to 1.9 million tons), before dropping off slightly in 2017 (1.68 million tons). The main suppliers of fresh citrus to the Gulf in 2017 were Egypt (525,000 tons), South Africa (430,000 tons), Turkey (120,000 tons), Pakistan (110,000 tons), Lebanon (47,000 tons) and Spain (43,000 tons).

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SRCC becomes more Mediterranean

SRCC becomes more Mediterranean, photo of Hannes de Waal, managing director of Sundays River Citrus Company
Hannes de Waal, managing director




Leading grower, packer and exporter of South African citrus SRCC (Sundays River Citrus Company) is seeking to consolidate itself in Europe and expand to new markets. Speaking at the firm’s stand at Fruit Attraction in Madrid, managing director, Hannes de Waal, said, “A few years ago, we established a ten-year plan to grow our customer base and we decided to become more Mediterranean. Spain has a great food culture and we have a lot to learn here. There are also a lot of opportunities as Spain’s excellent service providers allow us to work well.” Indeed, there is a window of between ten and twenty weeks during which Spain imports citrus from the Southern Hemisphere, and this provides SRCC with a great opportunity. “We have produced 9 million cartons this year and aim to raise this level to 12 million. With the stronger competition and our larger volumes, we need new markets, which is why we have now opened a new sales office in St Petersburg in Russia. Our many chemical-free products appeal especially to the northern European markets.” To cope with this increased production, the firm has recently opened a new storage facility with double the previous capacity.

Founded in 1924 in the renowned Sundays River Valley, SRCC has grown into the largest grower, packer and exporter of quality South African citrus and one of the biggest growers of clemenules in the world. Owned by its 100 citrus growers, the firm hires 300 permanent workers and 40,000 during the season. SRCC packs for its own growers and directly markets its products to customers under its brands: Sundays, Ada, Kirkwood.

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Morocco’s orange exports continue their ascent

Morocco’s orange exports are expected to reach around 120,500 tons in the 2016/17 marketing year – up 29% from 92,246 tons in 2015/16 – as increased availability allows it to meet growing demand from Russia and the EU, according to a new GAIN report.

Morocco’s orange exports are expected to reach around 120,500 tons in the 2016/17 marketing year – up 29% from 92,246 tons in 2015/16 – as increased availability allows it to meet growing demand from Russia and the EU, according to a new GAIN report.

The report says the country will likely also benefit from an expected decline in citrus exports from Spain due to quality issues caused by overabundant, late rainfall there.

In 2015/16, the EU and Russia bought 73% of Morocco’s orange exports, which were mainly (66%) Maroc Late oranges.

Morocco’s orange production should increase by 4% over the previous year to 962,250 tons, according to estimates by a USDA post in the country.

Much of that rise in production will be due to increases in the area harvested, as younger trees begin to bear fruit, the GAIN report says.

Source: Gain report 1617, Dec 14, 2016, 2016 Morocco Citrus Annual Report
Orange image: Pixabay under CC0 Public Domain licence

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Yichang gains ground as Chinese citrus exporter

Export markets are also showing increased demand for Yichang citrus fruit. The Chinese site says more than 200,000 tons of citrus were exported from Yichang last year and the volume is growing every year.

Record citrus production of 3.5 million tons – up 20% on last year – is expected this year in Yichang, China.

While elsewhere in China there is an underproduction of citrus fruit, Yichang has been expanding its sales volumes each year. It has gained a good reputation for its citrus varieties among consumers in Chinese markets in recent years, reports

Export markets are also showing increased demand for Yichang citrus fruit. The Chinese site says more than 200,000 tons of citrus were exported from Yichang last year and the volume is growing every year.

Russia, South-East Asia and nearby countries and regions are the main markets for Yichang’s citrus exports. The Russian ban on Turkish fruit imports has helped boost the Yichang citrus export volumes.

A transportation centre linking eastern and western China, Yichang lies on the banks of the Yangtze River in Hubei Province.


Image: By Mrspaceman at English Wikipedia (Photo by en:User:Mrspaceman) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons



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San Miguel grows in South Africa while looking East

San Miguel is focusing on exploring new markets, expanding its fruit supply in those where it is already present, bolstering the pillars of its company identity and strengthening its quality and sustainability policies.

With a total of 7,760 hectares planted in three countries (Argentina, Uruguay and South Africa) and a total in 2015 of 91,058 tons of citrus exports, San Miguel is focusing on exploring new markets, expanding its fruit supply in those where it is already present, bolstering the pillars of its company identity and strengthening its quality and sustainability policies.

“We want to consolidate our position as the leading company for fresh citrus and processed fruit and vegetable foods in the Southern Hemisphere. We understand that lasting success must be achieved and maintained through sustainable development,” said Alejandro Moralejo, Fruta Fresca’s commercial director.

While Europe accounts for half of its customers and Russia is bordering 15%, the firm is also making headway in North American markets and now ships over 20% of its produce to customers in the Middle and Far East.

The most important fruit is lemon with 52% of its output, but orange exports continue to grow with 41% and mandarins at 6%.

This year, the supply from San Miguel will balance out. The growth rate being seen in sweet citruses is slightly higher than in lemon.

Historically, the company had a ratio of 4 or 5 times more lemon than oranges and tangerines, while it has now managed to achieve a 1-to-1 ratio.

In new markets, it is exploring the Far East and, in order to expand its supply to the US market, recently acquired two new farms in Western Cape, South Africa, which unlike other regions in this country has the phytosanitary permits to export to the US.

The main distribution channels are supermarkets, accounting for 70% of sales.


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Morocco’s citrus exports on the rise

The USDA post in Morocco forecasts a 5% upturn on the previous year for the country’s orange production for a total of 918,120 tons from a planted area of about 55,804 ha. It anticipates orange exports of about 135,000 tons.

Rejuvenation of citrus orchards, improved irrigation, and increases in harvested areas are big factors in expected increases in Morocco’s citrus output and exports for the 2015/16 marketing year.

And the country’s citrus exports are also set to rise, mostly due to high demand in Russia market, as tensions mount between Moscow and Ankara, the USDA says in its 2015 Morocco Citrus Annual Report.

“The Moroccan citrus industry is planning to continue its strong focus on the Russian market this season, but warns coordination will be needed to avoid poor prices,” the report says.

The USDA post in Morocco forecasts a 5% upturn on the previous year for the country’s orange production for a total of 918,120 tons from a planted area of about 55,804 ha. It anticipates orange exports of about 135,000 tons.

Tangerine/mandarin exports are in line for a 10% boost to about 380,800 tons on the back of a 5% production increase to 1,055,241 tons from 62,181 ha.

Exports of lemons and limes should come in at about 7,200 tons. Morocco’s lemon and lime production is forecast to expand 8% to 35,500 tons on a planted area of 3,750 ha.

Source: USDA GAIN 2015 Morocco Citrus Annual Report

Image of box of Maroc brand clementines sold in Canada: “يوسفي مغربي” by عمرو بن كلثوم – Own work. Licensed under LGPL via Commons

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Tough time for Israeli citrus market, says USDA

The Israeli citrus market's export value has been negatively affected by external shocks and unfavorable weather, reports the USDA.

External shocks and adverse weather have rocked the export market for Israeli citrus, according to a report by the US Department of Agriculture.

The Israeli shekel has strengthened about 10% against the Euro in the last year, making Israeli citrus exports less profitable in the EU, a market to which two-thirds of its citrus exports go.

The Russian financial crisis is also hurting Israeli citrus exports. The rapid depreciation of the ruble against the shekel has brought trade to a standstill since February. And exports to Japan have also taken a hit due to economic slowdown there.

Israel is consequently increasing its exports to long distance markets, mainly South Korea, the US, and Canada, the USDA said. “However, these markets remain small with the US and the Canadian markets capturing 3-4% of the total Israeli citrus exports.”

Meanwhile, in January, about 6,000 ha. of citrus were damaged due to hail storms and winds estimated to have caused overall damage worth NIS 70 million ($17.7 mil) to Israeli agriculture, affecting thousands of acres of avocado and citrus crops and some row crops in the south. The citrus damage would have been worse if not for the protective nets used in groves. “Despite the weather disturbances, export quantity was not affected significantly and this is mainly to a good crop and that made up for the weather,” the USDA said.

Screenshot 2015-06-18 at 10.24.39.png

Israel’s best seller in citrus is the Orri mandarin, an easy-peeler which accounted for about 40% of Israeli citrus exports (64,478 tons) in the 2014/15 marketing year and mainly goes to the EU and. “Orri is still profitable, but it’s just less profitable per unit than it could be and this is due to the weakened Euro,” the USDA said.

“Orange exports in MY 2014/15 have declined marginally compared to the previous two years because of strong domestic demand (see table).  The decrease in grapefruit exports in MY 2014/15 is mainly due to the fact that about 1,100 ha of red grapefruit (star ruby and Rio-red varieties) were uprooted in the last 3 years due to low profitability,” it said.

Source: “External Shocks and Weather Conditions Challenging Citrus Revenues” a Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) report by the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) 

Image: “Lemon Orchard in the Galilee by David Shankbone” by David Shankbone (attribution required) – own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.