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USDA awards $20 million in citrus greening research grants

Citrus greening has affected more than 75% of Florida citrus crops and threatens production all across the United States.

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has awarded $20.1 million in grants to university researchers for research and extension projects to help citrus producers fight Huanglongbing (HLB), commonly known as citrus greening disease.

According to a USDA press releaseHLB was initially detected in Florida in 2005 and has since affected more than 75% of Florida citrus crops and threatens production across the US.

It has also been detected in Georgia, Louisiana, South Carolina, and Texas and several residential trees in California, as well as in Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, and 14 states in Mexico. A total of 15 US states or territories are under full or partial quarantine due to the detected presence of the Asian citrus psyllid, a vector for HLB.

US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said on Monday February 8​: “The research and extension projects funded today bring us one step closer to providing growers real tools to fight this disease, from early detection to creating long-term solutions for the industry, producers and workers.”

Trees infected with citrus greening, but not treated with heat, have obvious disease symptoms and reduced productivity. (Photo by Marco Pitino via USDA)

Research at the University of Florida and Washington State University will focus on growing the putative pathogenic bacterium in artificial culture, which will greatly facilitate research efforts to manage HLB. Another project at the University of Florida will develop morpholino-based bactericides to reduce pathogen transmission and eliminate infections in existing trees. Research at the University of California will use virulence proteins from the pathogen to detect its presence before symptoms appear and to develop strategies for creating citrus rootstocks that are immune to HLB.

Top image of orange tree leaves with symptoms of Huanglongbing, also known as citrus greening disease, by Tim Gottwald via USDA

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Product ‘tropicalisation’ important for Costa Rican market

Though its population is small – just 4.8 million people – Costa Rica adds more than 2 million tourists and thousands of affluent retirees to its base of retail food consumers every year.

Suppliers of food for Costa Rica’s retail market should show more interest in ‘tropicalising’ products, a new GAIN report says.

Tropicalising involves concepts such as packaging in smaller volumes and in a manner appropriate for the heat of the tropics, and incorporating popular local flavours, such as fruit, etc, it says.

It also reports that Costa Rican food executives encourage US food manufacturers and suppliers to, among other things, be more aggressive in all sectors, but especially regarding canned and fresh fruits and vegetables, and processed foods; and to show greater interest in providing environmentally friendly packaging.

According to ‘Costa Rica: Retail Foods’, the economic outlook in Costa Rica is promising, “economic growth is steady and a solid base of middle to upper-class consumers is expanding in the country.” Though its population is small – just 4.8 million people – Costa Rica “adds more than 2 million tourists and thousands of affluent retirees to its base of retail food consumers every year.”

Best prospects for exports to Costa Rica

Costa Rica imports fresh fruits year-round, but about 70% of total domestic consumption of non-tropical fruits occurs during the Christmas season (October through December).

Mexico, Chile and Guatemala are the main competitors of the US in the Costa Rican fresh fruit, wines and vegetable market.

While the most favourable export prospects for the US lie in processed products, in recent years, “consuming more convenience and healthy foods has been the trend and has resulted in good prospects for US exports of fresh fruit (mainly apples, grapes, peaches and pears), processed fruits and vegetables (especially canned fruits), and snack foods (including chips, cookies and candies),” GAIN says.

The US and Chile export similar products to Costa Rica, but during different seasons. “Imports from Chile take place from January to July. During the rest of the year, imports come mostly from the United States, except for those fruits available year-round.” Canada also poses slight competition in the fruit and potato sector because of its 2002 FTA with Costa Rica.

Fruit and vegetable production in Costa Rica

Tropical vegetables and fruits are among the locally produced products that present competition to US exporters in the Costa Rican market.

Costa Rica has been incorporating advanced technologies into the preservation of locally produced foods – preserves, concentrates, deep freezing, canning, and packaging thus opening the door to new markets and diversity, both for internal consumption and also for export.

Key Costa Rica exports include bananas, heart of palm, concentrated tropical fruits and jalapeno peppers.

“Tropical fruits and vegetables like bananas, pineapples, cantaloupes, watermelons, mangoes, cassava, ginger, yams, roots and tubers, vegetables and greens – produced both with conventional methods as well as organically – have been very important products in the international markets, as much as for fresh food consumption as for fresh raw ingredients,” the report says.

Retail in Costa Rica

In 2014, the retail sector continued its planned expansion with major retailers moving deeper into the small store segment, targeting those who shop in convenience and small stores. “Additionally, the Costa Rican market of wholesale supermarkets continues to grow, mainly driven by the opening of convenience stores, bakeries, ‘sodas’ (small low end restaurants), restaurants and hotels in recent years.”

Source: Costa Rica: Retail Foods
Image of popular Costa Rican tourist destination Jaco Beach: by Costaricapro (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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Rush of investment in Egypt’s retail sector

There’s a significant surge of investment in Egypt’s retail sector as the shopping habits of the country’s consumers’ increasingly move towards modern retail.

The shopping habits of Egyptian consumers are increasingly shifting towards the modern retail sector, resulting in a significant surge of investment in this sector, reports the USDA.

In its report ‘Nile Nuggets for January 2016’, it says the Al-Bustan Real Estate Development Company will invest LE (Egyptian pounds) 3 billion to build four new “HyperOne” branches in New Cairo, Shorouk City, Badr City and Assiut.

Also, the Fathalla Gomla Market Group will invest LE 70 million to establish a 10,000 m2 supermarket in Borg El Arab.

Furthermoe, UAE- based Spinneys is said to be “aggressively expanding” with plans to open 23 new branches in the Delta and Upper Egypt governorates in the next two years with a total investment of LE 5 billion. [$1 = 7.83 LE]

According to the report, the company currently owns six branches in Cairo, the Red Sea, and Qena and retail manager Mahmoud Meawad has stated that Spinney’s has the goal of achieving 35% market share in Egypt’s retail market.

Source: USDA, Nile Nuggets for January 2016
Image by: Alma E. Guinness [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons 

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Global citrus markets and trade forecasts for 2015/16

A snapshot of citrus fruit trade, production and consumption around the world.

In its latest, twice-yearly report Citrus: World Markets and Trade, the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service provides estimates for the 2015/16 world markets and trade in fresh oranges, orange juice, tangerines/mandarins, grapefruit and lemons and limes.

Here are some of the key figures:


Production for 2015/16 is forecast down 740,000 tons from the previous year to 47.9 million tons as declines in the US and Mexico more than offset increases in Brazil, China, the European Union, and Egypt. Fruit for processing is down 840,000 tons on the lower production in the United States.

Exports (see table at end) are up slightly as most of the reduced supplies will be processing oranges.


Global production for 2015/16 is forecast at a record 29 million metric tons, up over 200,000 tons from last year with an increase in China offsetting a drop in the EU. Fresh consumption continues to expand with greater supplies.

Trade is down as a 25% drop in exports from Turkey more than offsets the growth from China, Morocco, and Israel.


For 2015/16, global production is forecast up 300,000 tons to 6.4 million tons on a 10% increase in China as area expands.

Exports are up 3% as consumption grows 7% on strong demand in China.


Global production in 2015/16  is forecast 3% lower to 6.9 million tons. A drop in the EU due to unfavorable weather that affected bloom and fruit set more than offsets the rise in Argentina

Global exports are forecast up 4% on higher trade from Argentina and Mexico. Fruit for processing is down as a result of smaller available supplies from the EU.

Source: Citrus: World Markets and Trade, January 2016, Office of Global Analysis, Foreign Agricultural Service/USDA

Citrus fruits image: by Scott Bauer, USDA [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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Record orange exports forecast for Australia

Australia’s citrus industry is export-oriented and has a competitive advantage in Northern Hemisphere markets such as Indonesia, China, Japan, Korea and the US.

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

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Fresh produce prices on the rise in United States


Retail prices for fresh fruit in the United States should rise by 2.5-3.5% in 2016, according to the latest USDA Food Price Outlook.

And those for fresh vegetables are forecast to rise 2-3%, it says.

The expected rises come after estimated deflation of 0.75% to 0.25% in 2015 for fresh fruit and vegetables overall.

Historical data indicate that fresh fruits and vegetables and egg prices are the most volatile food prices that ERS tracks.

“Prices for fresh fruits fell 0.3 percent from October to November but are 1.1 percent higher than in November 2014. Despite being higher year-over-year due, fresh fruit prices are still expected to deflate overall in 201. ERS expects fresh fruit prices to decrease 2.25 to 1.25 percent in 2015 due, in part, to the supply and price of imports.

“Fresh vegetable prices increased in November, rising 1.1 percent over October levels. Fresh vegetable prices are up 1.8 percent since November 2014, resulting in an expectation for prices to increase 0.75 to 1.75 percent in 2015. This does not say that the drought had no impact on fresh produce prices—other factors, such as the strength of the U.S. dollar and low oil prices, have placed downward pressure on retail fruit and vegetable prices,” the ERS said.

Supermarket image: By ProjectManhattan. (Own work.) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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Fresh table grapes: world demand and production estimates

In its latest report on world markets and trades for deciduous fruit, the FAS also said global trade in fresh table grapes is likely to remain steady at about 2.7 million tons in the 2015/16 marketing year, though both Peru and China are poised to increase their shares.

Global consumption of fresh table grapes is set to rise for the 6th consecutive year, going from just over 15.6 million tons in 2009/10 to an expected 20.9 million tons in 2015/16, amounting to growth of nearly 34%.

China, India, the EU, Turkey and Brazil are the top 5 consumer markets.

Meanwhile, world table grape production is also headed up, by 479,000 tons to 21.1 million in 2015/16, as continued growth in China more than offsets declines in Turkey, according to new projections by the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS).

In its latest report on world markets and trades for deciduous fruit, the FAS also said global trade in fresh table grapes is likely to remain steady at about 2.7 million tons in the 2015/16 marketing year.

Both Peru and China are increasing their shares.

China: is the world’s biggest fresh table grape grower and consumer, accounting for about 46% of both global production and consumption.

China’s production is forecast to jump 800,000 tons to 9.6 million on higher area in 2015/16 and its exports to surge 35,000 tons to 165,000 as lower prices and good quality fruit boost exports to neighboring Asian markets. Imports into China are expected to rise 24,000 tons to 250,000 on higher shipments from top suppliers Chile and Peru.

Chile: the top table grape exporter, with a 27% share of the global market, Chile faces a slight contraction in production to 925,000 tons on continued low yields following last year’s March floods and July snow, which affected orchards in the north.

Before the bad frost of 2013/14, Chile’s production had been above the million ton mark. Its 2015/16 exports are forecast down 10,000 tons to 740,000 on lower exportable supplies.

United States: production is forecast up 29,000 tons to 984,000 on higher yield in California despite drought being a concern for many growers. Exports are forecast to remain flat at 390,000 tons on unchanging demand from top markets Canada and Mexico. Imports are forecast to slip 7,000 tons to 540,000 on lower availability from top supplier Chile, the FAS says.

Peru: production is forecast to rise a modest 10,000 tons to 510,000 as new plantings, driven by strong foreign demand, continue to come into production. Exports are forecast to rise 15,000 tons to 295,000 as market share continues to expand in top markets China and the EU. Peru ranks third after Chile and the US for fresh table grape exports, holding an 11% slice of the world market.

Turkey: is the world’s third biggest fresh table grape grower (and ranks fourth as a consumer) but production is forecast to drop 345,000 tons to 2 million tons as the main growing region of Western Turkey was hit by a spring frost. Exports are forecast to drop 78,000 tons to 179,000 on lower output and reduced shipments to top market Russia, where a ban on certain Turkish imports goes into effect January 1, 2016.

EU: imports into the EU, the world’s number one fresh table grape import market, are projected down slightly to 600,000 tons on stable demand and higher domestic production.

EU production is forecast up 49,000 tons to 1.7 million on increased output in Spain. Despite the Russian ban, exports are expected to remain stable at 105,000 tons on sustained exports to new markets in North Africa and the Middle East.

Russia: imports are forecast to fall 51,000 tons to 250,000 as consumer purchasing power continues to fall, consumption declines, and shipments from Turkey are reduced following Russia’s ban. Russia’s production is forecast down 9,300 tons to 90,000 on reductions in both commercial and household production.

Source: “Fresh Deciduous Fruit: World Markets and Trade (Apples, Grapes, & Pears)” December 2015, USDA Foreign Agricultural Service.

NB: The United States and Mexico are on a May-April marketing year for table grapes. All other Northern Hemisphere countries are on a June-May marketing year. Southern Hemisphere countries of Argentina, Chile, and New Zealand are on a calendar year indicated as the second year of the split year; South Africa is on an October-September marketing year (adjusted from calendar) on the first year of the split year. Some countries may include raisin-type and/or table-type grapes.

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Southern Italy set for 30% rise in cherry volumes

Southern Italy, which accounts for two thirds of national cherry production, is forecast to register a production increase of 30% (especially for early varieties), thanks to ideal weather conditions during fruit set.

Italy’s MY 2015/16 cherry production is preliminarily forecast at 131,200 tons, according to the USDA Global Agricultural Information Service’s (GAIN) latest Italy stone fruit annual.

Southern Italy, which accounts for two thirds of national cherry production, is forecast to register a production increase of 30% (especially for early varieties), thanks to ideal weather conditions during fruit set.

Calibers are forecast to be smaller than 2014 and quality excellent, and good quantity and quality are also expected in Emilia-Romagna, the report says.


Cherry trade in Italy in 2014

Exports: Italy exported 10,419 tons of cherries, mainly to Germany (4,686 tons), last year.
Imports: It imported 10,698 tons of cherries, mainly from Spain (5,105 tons), Turkey (1,937 tons) and Austria (1,053 tons).

Read more here.

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US exhibitors report $6.8 million in projected sales from Asia Fruit Logistica

13 U.S. exhibitors reported over $1 million in onsite sales and $6.8 million in projected sales following a successful Asia Fruit Logistica 2015 in Hong Kong.

Over $1 million in onsite sales and $6.8 million in projected sales have been reported by the 13 US exhibitors at this year’s Asia Fruit Logistica, held September 2-4 in Hong Kong.

The USDA said the event, a USDA-endorsed show, is Hong Kong’s largest specialised trade show for agricultural produce. “This year, more than 570 companies from 40 countries/regions exhibited products to over 9,200 Hong Kong based and regional buyers.”

Among the support provided to leverage US exhibitors’ market opportunities, the US Agricultural Trade Office (ATO) Hong Kong organised a market tour, provided a market briefing and hosted a trade reception for more than 80 invitees . “As a result, U.S. exhibitors secured excellent export opportunities, achieving on-site sales of over US$1 million and projected sales in the next 12 months of over US$6.8 million,” the USDA has reported.

In 2014, the US was the largest supplier of fruit, vegetable and tree nut products to Hong Kong, with exports valued over $485 million, $30 million and $889 million, respectively. Hong Kong also serves as a gateway for the flow of products to regional markets with strong logistical access to Asian-based buyers and markets, it said.

Image of Hong Kong night skyline by Base64, retouched by CarolSpears (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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Ongoing strong growth in Mexican avocado Industry

The world leader in avocado production, Michoacán accounts for 80% of Mexico’s avocado production but the state of Jalisco – Mexico’s second-largest producer with 6% of total Mexican production – is growing at a faster rate than other states.

Mexico’s Hass avocado production is forecast to come in at 1.6 million tons in marketing year (MY) 2015/16, up from the estimated 2014/15 total of 1.5 million, and 1.4 million tons in 2013/14. And exports will rise to about 750,000 tons in 2015/16 (July/June), predicts the USDA GAIN’s Mexico Avocado Annual Report.


The USDA Post’s avocado production forecast for 2015/16 of 1.6 million tons is based on official estimates and reflects the fact that Michoacán has enjoyed good weather, though rainfall and hail in March “somewhat affected maturity levels of the fruit.”
“Sources indicate that the good implementation of phytosanitary pest control programs has helped boost production,” the report says.

Production growing fast in state of Jalisco

The world leader in avocado production, Michoacán accounts for 80% of Mexico’s avocado production but the state of Jalisco – Mexico’s second-largest producer with 6% of total Mexican production – is growing at a faster rate than other states.

Total area planted is forecast to rise 6.2% to 186,926 ha in 2015/16 “as growers in different states in Mexico are interested in increasing area due to good domestic and international demand for Mexican Hass avocados.”

Due to plant health concerns, Michoacán is currently the only state in Mexico authorised to export Hass avocados to the US.


Due to its longer shelf life and demand for the variety in foreign markets, most Mexican states grow the Hass variety. Other varieties planted in Mexico at smaller scales are Fuerte, Criollo, Bacon, Pinkerton, Gwen, and Reed.

Export growth

Despite international prices being lower than expected in September/October 2015, exports were slightly higher compared to the same period in 2014/15. According to Global Trade Atlas (GTA), exports for 2014/15 are estimated at 736,421 tons; however, data from the Secretariat of Economy (SE) in Mexico estimate exports at 847,070 tons.

In general, exports have been increasing due to a good international demand and year-round market access to all 50 US states.

According to GTA, avocado exports to the US for 2014/15 were 584,252 tons (SE data indicates 693,342 tons, very close to the industry estimates), and for MY 2013/14 exports to the US were 436,578 tons (SE data indicates 516,084 tons).

The vast majority of the export business is managed directly by packers, many of whom have significant U.S. investments. Growers in Michoacán generally sell their fruit on the spot market to a packer in terms of pesos per kilo.

Industry representatives indicate that processed avocado (guacamole) exports are approximately 170,000 tons, and that these products are sold to the US, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, GAIN says.

Export markets

The US is the top export market for Mexico, consuming 79% of total exports. Japan and Canada are strategic market niches where Japan has about 9% of the market and Canada about 6%. About 37 packers in Michoacán are eligible to export Mexican avocados to the US. Mexico has been exporting avocados to 21 countries; other top markets besides those listed above include Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, and France. As Mexico has increased trade with China over the past few years, avocado exports to that country increased from 1,825 tons in 2013/14 to 7,869 tons in 2014/15.

New avocado niche: avocado oil for cosmetics

Fresh avocado exports continue to drive producer profitability despite the fact that new market niches are developing (for example, the extraction and export of avocado oil for the cosmetic industry). The cosmetic industry has not taken full advantage of this demand segment as there is a consumer perception that avocado byproducts are expensive. A small amount of avocado oil is also sold for food use.

source: GAIN Report Number: MX5050 Mexico Avocado Annual Report