Record export crop for citrus

South Africa’s citrus industry achieved a record export crop in 2010 after a tough 2009 season.

According to Citrus Growers Association CEO Justin Chadwick, the tough global economic conditions that started to make their presence felt toward the end of the 2008 season impacted heavily on the 2009 citrus season. As a result, export volumes declined by 9%. Initial estimates for the 2010 season indicated a crop of 94 million cartons – on par with the 2008 figure.

But the final packed and shipped figures revealed a record season with a total of 99 million cartons exported for the year. “In essence, the quantity of grapefruit, lemons and soft citrus is very similar to 2008, it’s oranges that accounted for the increase,” said Chadwick in his latest industry newsletter, adding that a noticeable decrease in exports to the traditional markets of the UK and continental Europe, across all citrus sectors, shows that citrus exports are moving to new markets.

In 2008, 52% of all citrus exports from South Africa went to the EU and UK. Only 44% went to these markets in 2010. Exporters preferred to send their citrus to the Middle East and Russia. Exports to the Middle East increased from 18% of all citrus exports in 2008 to 22% in 2010, and exports to Russia increased from 9% to 12%. “If citrus is a measure of recession then it would appear that there has been a recovery in the East, Middle East and Eastern Europe, while sluggish demand persists in Europe, UK and Japan,” said Chadwick.