Mandarin Production in Japan

Josh McGill Crop Forecast, International, Mandarins

Tangerine/mandarin production in Japan for 202223 is forecast at 921,000 metric tons (MT), down 3.5% compared to the prior year. Tangerines/mandarins account for a majority of Japan’s citrus production, and the Unshu is expected to be the leading mandarin variety at 722,000 MT. Non-Unshu varieties are forecast at 199,000 MT. The forecast was issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Service (USDA FAS).

Unshu is Japan’s leading mandarin variety. (Photo by P.C. Andersen)

Since 1974, Japan’s planted area of Unshus, also known as satsuma mandarins, has been on a continuous decline. To prevent overproduction and a subsequent price drop, Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) imposed Unshu production control in 1975. In response to subsequent supply shortages over several years, MAFF rescinded Unshu production control for the marketing year 2019–20.

During the Unshu production control period, some citrus farmers transitioned to the production of non-Unshu varieties, such as Natsu-Mikan (Citrus natsudaidai) and Iyokan (Citrus iyo), in the 1980s. Some transitioned to hybrid Unshu-orange varieties, such as Shiranui and Kiyomi, in the 1990s. Despite partially offsetting falling Unshu production, non-Unshu citrus production has also been declining since 1987, as the average farmer’s age increased.

The lack of successors in Japanese agriculture exacerbates production challenges, particularly for labor-intensive crops with a limited financial reward, such as mandarins. USDA FAS forecasts 2022–23 harvested area for tangerines/mandarins in Japan to fall to 49,300 hectares, a decline of 2.6% from the prior year.

USDA FAS forecasts Japan’s imports of tangerines/mandarins at 16,000 MT in 2022–23, an increase of 11.2% over the prior year. In 2021–22, the United States remained the leading supplier of fresh tangerines to Japan with 41% of import share,
followed by Australia and Peru. Japanese tangerine importers also noted a sudden influx of Turkish tangerines to Japan in 2021–22. They expect that the volume of imports from Turkey will continue to increase in 2022–23.

Following the government of Japan’s policy to increase agricultural exports, including of Unshu, USDA FAS forecasts Japan’s 2022–23 tangerine/mandarin exports will increase 8% to 1,800 MT, up from 1,667 MT in 2021–22.

See the full USDA FAS report on Japanese citrus here.

Source: USDA FAS

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