South African Mandarin Industry Sees Growth

Josh McGillCrop Forecast, International, Mandarins

South African tangerine/mandarin (soft citrus) production is forecast to grow by 6% to 670,000 metric tons (MT) in 2022–23, up from 630,000 MT the prior year. The forecast is from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service (USDA FAS). 

South African
Photo by SHVETS production

In 2021–22, the area planted with tangerines/mandarins grew by an estimated 7% to 28,000 hectares from 26,151 hectares the prior year.

The area planted with tangerines/mandarins increased exponentially over the past seven years, driven by higher global demand for seedless soft citrus and relatively higher profit
margins compared to other citrus types. However, this aggressive growth in soft citrus area is expected to slow down in 2022–23.

The industry is concerned that demand for soft citrus is softening in key markets such as the European Union (EU) and United Kingdom due to inflationary pressures on consumers and an expected weakening in economic growth. In addition, accelerating farming input costs, higher shipping rates, infrastructure inefficiencies, ineffective port operations and deteriorating road networks are diminishing the profitability of soft citrus producers.

The predominant cultivar planted is the Nardocott, accounting for almost 20% of total area. Nardocott is followed by Arccit 9 (12%), Nules, (12%), Tango (11%), Nova (10 %), Leanri (9%) and Orri (8%).

South Africa’s exports of tangerines/mandarins are projected to grow by almost 8% in 2022–23 to reach a record level of 560,000 MT.

The EU and the United Kingdom account for 45% of total South African exports of soft citrus, followed by Russia (10%), the United States (10%) and United Arab Emirates (7%).

South Africa’s exports of soft citrus to the United States have grown exponentially over the past five years, from 11,180 MT in 2016–17 to 48,820 MT in 2021–22. This growth trend is expected to continue based on the expanding preference for easy peelers in the United States market. In 2021–22, the United States was South Africa’s fourth largest export market for tangerines/mandarins.

South Africa’s imports of tangerines/mandarins are expected to remain flat at 3,000 MT in 2022–23. South Africa only imports minimal volumes of citrus to satisfy off-season demand.

See the full USDA FAS annual report on South African citrus here.

Source: USDA FAS

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