Fresh Citrus Production, Imports and Exports

Ernie NeffFresh


U.S. citrus production for the fresh market was estimated at 3.45 million tons in 2020-21, down 6% from the previous season, with smaller fresh-market crops of oranges (down 11%), grapefruit (down 15%) and lemons (down 6%). The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service reported the production levels in September.

Representing just under half of all U.S. citrus production for the fresh market, oranges decreased from the previous season to 1.68 million tons due to smaller crops in California, Florida and Texas.

With a supply contraction and robust demand, prices increased. Overall, the average equivalent-on-tree price for a box of fresh oranges increased from $16.57 in 2019-20 to $21.43 in 2020-21 due to higher prices in September through May.

Lower exports this season (a decrease of 8%) are indicative of higher domestic demand. Exports to South Korea, Canada and Hong Kong (the top three export markets for U.S. oranges) decreased by 12%, 15% and 20%, respectively.

U.S. imports of fresh oranges in 2020-21 (November through July) were down 6% from the same period last year. Although fresh orange imports from Mexico were up 8%, there were marked decreases in imports from Chile and South Africa, the second- and third-largest suppliers of fresh oranges to the United States.

Production of U.S. tangerines, mandarins and tangelos (collectively referred to as tangerines) for the fresh market bucked the production downturn of oranges, grapefruit and lemons. Tangerine production reached its second highest level in 50 years at 788,000 tons this season due to a larger crop in California.

Imports of tangerines were down 3% in the 2020-21 season, compared to last season’s record high, with 835 million pounds imported primarily from Chile, Peru and Morocco.

Exports of tangerines were up this year, with a 9% (10 million pounds) increase from 2019-20. Canada, Japan and Mexico remained the three largest export markets for U.S.-grown tangerines.

Near-record high domestic production this season led to the highest per-capita availability of tangerines on record of 6.95 pounds.

See the full USDA report.

Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service

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