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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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Edeka to stock citrus with Apeel technology

Edeka to stock citrus with Apeel technology, credit. yisris, Flickr
Source: Flickr

 

The Edeka Group is extending its commitment to fighting food waste by using the innovative “Apeel” technology not just to protect its avocados but also oranges and clementines. Apeel produce has a protective layer consisting of plant-based materials that slow down water loss and penetration by oxygen – two main factors contributing to decay of fresh fruit and vegetable products.

Apeel reduces food waste and makes plastic foil unnecessary for packaging many products. Edeka is the trading partner of US-based Apeel Sciences and launched avocados with Apeel’s protective coating at selected stores at the end of 2019.

Oranges and clementines are now following suit as part of the pilot project. In the future, Apeel’s plant-derived protective coating will also ensure longer-lasting freshness of Edeka WWF oranges (1.5 kg bag), Edeka Selection oranges “NavelGold” (1 kg bag), and EDEKA Selection “ClemenGold” clementines (750 g bag).

The Apeel-protected oranges, clementines and avocados will be available in selected Edeka stores in parts of northern Germany and North-Rhine Westphalia, as well as at Netto branches in parts in Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg and Lower Saxony. The project foresees nationwide roll-out of these longer shelf-life products in Germany during 2020.

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Spain’s citrus sales slow down

Spain’s citrus sales slow down, Source: Observatorio de Precios y Mercados (Andalucia)

The Christmas holidays led to a reduction in sales of citrus in Spain, although the arrival of low temperatures and the end of the Christmas period should prompt an upturn. The average prices of citrus fruits in the 2019/20 campaign are higher than those registered in the previous campaign, in which the prices were especially low. The upward trend in the prices generally corresponds to product varieties with a higher commercial value in the market.

A decrease in average yield per hectare has been registered in the current campaign. Average orange prices remained stable at 0.19 / kg in week 52 of 2019 and week 1 of 2020, decreasing by 5% with respect to the average value of orange in week 51 of 2019 (€0.2 / kg) and 9.5% compared to week 50 (€0.21 / kg).

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Global citrus crop shrinks

640px-Citrus_fruits

The 2019/20 global citrus crop is down for all categories, except grapefruit. Orange production is down 11% to 47.5 million, due to weather-afflicted seasons in Brazil, the EU, Morocco and Egypt, with small increases in China and the US unable to compensate for these losses. The global mandarin crop is down 1% to 31.7 million tons, with drops in all major production regions, especially Turkey (-9%) except China.  The world’s lemon crop is estimated to be down 7% to 7.9 million tons, with Argentina (-11%), the EU (-13%), Turkey (-9%) and the US (16%) all suffering challenging seasons due to weather events. Mexico’s and South Africa’s lemon and lime production are both expected to be up. Lastly, grapefruit was the one citrus category that registered a larger crop in the 2019-20 campaign, with larger harvests in China, South Africa, Turkey and the US more than offsetting the 18% fall in the EU’s crop.

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Frutinter focuses on sustainable solutions

Frutinter focuses on sustainable solutions

 

Maximum sustainability throughout its processes: this is the challenge that citrus specialist Frutinter has accepted. Working in partnership with the University of Valencia, the company has designed smart technology to provide its plants with exactly what they need in every moment of their development. Speaking at the firm’s stand at Fruit Attraction in Madrid, marketing manager, Vicente Mingarro, said, “We have developed a project to ensure we have the smallest carbon footprint possible. We have invested in precision agriculture to use the minimum quantity of water and we are using insects to replace chemical pesticides. We’re treating the residual water to ensure it doesn’t contaminate the land.” The firm is also focused on improving sustainability throughout the supply chain. “We are using more natural and recyclable packaging such as netting to replace plastics. Solar panels have been installed to power our warehouses, which are designed to have natural lighting. We have a separate warehouse section for fruits which have undergone no chemical treatment. For transportation, we have changed our fleet from diesel-powered to gas-powered trucks,” said Mingarro. 

Around 75% of Frutinter’s offer is sold in Spain, with the majority of the rest sent to the EU. Shipments have also recently begun to Canada and Brazil, with sights now set firmly on Asia, too. Besides citrus, Frutinter produces melon, watermelon, grapes, tomatoes, lettuce and tropical fruits. The firm’s annual volumes total 130,000 tons of citrus, 15,000 tons of melon and watermelon, and 15,000 tons of other fruit and vegetables.

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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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WCO to represent 70% of citrus producing countries

WCO to represent 70% of citrus producing countries, ct. Forest and Kim Starr, Flickr
Credit: Forest and Kim Starr, Flickr
 

 

The World Citrus Organisation is growing at a rapid pace, with even more new countries set to join. Launched at the end of October by seven leading citrus producing countries (Argentina, Chile, Italy, Morocco, Peru, Spain and South Africa) during Fruit Attraction in Madrid, the WCO will soon represent 70% of the world’s citrus producing countries. Justin Chadwick, CEO of South Africa’s Citrus Growing Association, said the organisation is “creating a powerful global platform for dialogue and action between the citrus-producing countries worldwide. The new member countries about to join up are Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Egypt, Greece, Portugal and the US.

The WCO is administered by Freshfel Europe, the European Fresh Produce Association. Its aim is to discuss common issues affecting citrus-producing countries, exchange information on production and market trends, preparing scenarios for citrus trade in 2030, while also fostering dialogue on policy issues of common concern. The WCO will also play a role in identifying and promoting research and innovation projects specific to the citrus sector and liaising with public and private stakeholders on citrus-related matters to highlight the importance of citrus producers and the need for a fair return. The WCO will meet again during next year’s Fruit Logistica in Berlin.

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Increase in citrus sales in UK

'Easy peelers' (such as tangerines, clementines and satsumas) account for more than half of all citrus fruit sold in UK supermarkets, Kantar Worldpanel data shows.

‘Easy peelers’ (such as tangerines, clementines and satsumas) account for more than half of all citrus fruit sold in UK supermarkets, Kantar Worldpanel data shows.

For the 52 weeks to October 11, oranges were the next most popular citrus fruit, with just under 27% of sales, followed by lemons with 11.3% and grapefruit with 6.5%.

Total citrus sales over this period reached nearly 384,000 tons, which was up 4% on 52 weeks to October 12 last year, and the spend inched up 0.3% to £726.5 million (€1b).

While there was 5.1% growth in the volume of easy peelers sold, the spend was down 0.4%, and for oranges both the volume and value sold were down, by 2.1% and 6.8% respectively.

UK shoppers increased their spend on the other citrus types, however. Lemon sales were up 13% in volume and 14% in value.

The highest growth, though off the smallest base, was for lemon+lime sales, which rose just over 37% in both volume and value.