South Africa Lemon/Lime Production to Shrink

Josh McGillCrop Forecast, International, lemons, Limes

Fresh lemon/lime production in South Africa is forecast to shrink by 13% to 653,000 metric tons (MT) in 2022–23, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Service (USDA FAS) reported recently. In the prior season, the country produced a record 748,000 MT. The yield reduction this year is due to hailstorm damage in the Eastern Cape in November 2022.

Photo by Hoach Le Dinh on Unsplash

The lemon/lime planted area in South Africa has more than doubled over the past seven years, driven by improved global demand and rising prices. However, the positive trend in area planted has flattened in recent years due to the bearish movement of export prices received by producers. USDA FAS expects this situation to continue in 2022–23, with planted area remaining relatively static at 17,550 hectares. Newly planted trees appear to only be replacing older orchards.

The largest growing region for lemons/limes in South Africa is the Eastern Cape province, accounting for 42% of total area planted, followed by the Limpopo (32%) and Western Cape (14%) provinces.

The most popular lemon cultivar planted in South Africa is Eureka, representing 75% of total area. Eureka is followed by the Lisbon (8%) and 2PH Seedless (6%) cultivars.

Lemons/limes delivered for processing are expected to fall by 75% in 2022–23, to 40,000 MT. This change is largely due to increased volumes of exportable lemons.

Processed lemons and limes are used as flavorings for confectionary and dairy products. In the beverage industry, lemons/limes are used to make lemonade, smoothies and liquors. In the cleaning industry, lemon juice is used as a degreaser and disinfectant.

South Africa’s exports of lemons/limes are forecast to grow by 2% to a record 570,000 MT in 2022–23. This estimate is based partly on sustained growth in the European Union (EU) and United Kingdom (UK) markets and growth in demand from the Middle East and Asian markets.

The EU and UK remained the main export markets for South African lemons/limes, accounting for almost 50% of total exports in 2021–22.

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

Source: USDA FAS