South Africa Citrus Exports to Break Record

Ernie Neff Export, International

The South Africa citrus industry will likely break all export season records with an estimated 158.7 million cartons in 2021, the Citrus Growers Association of Southern Africa (CGA) reported recently. If the estimate is reached, it would represent a third consecutive season of record export volumes, with 130 million cartons exported in 2019, followed by 146 million cartons in 2020. CGA projections for 2021 indicate a 22% growth in export figures in just two years.

Navel oranges and lemons have shown a small increase since last year, while Valencia oranges (5%) and grapefruit (16%) have shown a strong increase. Soft citrus-producing regions are projected to show the most significant growth, with an estimated 30.5 million cartons for export in 2021, up 29% from last year. The late mandarin varieties in particular stand out within the soft citrus category, with an expected growth of 42% this year.

Medium-term crop estimates indicate that the citrus industry is expected to continue increasing its exports by another 300,000 tons over the next three years.

“These figures indicate phenomenal growth within the South African citrus industry and for the local economy,” CGA CEO Justin Chadwick said. “The demand for South African produce overseas is a wonderful testament to the quality of South Africa’s citrus fruit. There is no doubt that citrus growers are investing heavily for the future.”

“To maximize the potential of the citrus industry as a South African export, we are going to need government and other stakeholders to play their part,” Chadwick added. “For example, we will be relying heavily on the efficiency of our ports in order to successfully ship the additional 13 million cartons estimated for this year alone. We will also need to work hand-in-hand with government to secure, maintain and retain as many market access opportunities as possible. Optimizing access conditions will be essential for the continued growth of our industry.”

Last year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture authorized imports of cold-treated fresh citrus from South Africa into all U.S. ports, despite concerns from the Florida citrus industry.

Source: Citrus Growers Association of Southern Africa

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