South Africa Mandarin Production to Grow

Josh McGillCrop Forecast, International, Mandarins

Tangerine/mandarin production in South Africa is forecast by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Service (USDA FAS) to grow by 6% in 2022–23 to 680,000 metric tons (MT).

South Africa

There is a growing trend to establish new orchards under netting, which has improved water efficiency, yields and the overall quality of mandarins in South Africa.

The South African tangerine/mandarin planted area has increased exponentially over the past seven years, driven by higher global demand for seedless tangerines/mandarins and relatively higher profit margins compared to other citrus types. However, USDA FAS expects the growth in planted area to slow down in 2022–23. The current planted area is 26,977 hectares.

The industry is concerned that demand for tangerines/mandarins is softening in key markets such as the European Union (EU) and United Kingdom (UK) 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 ports operations and deteriorating road networks are diminishing the profitability of producers and limiting continued investment in the industry.

South Africa prioritizes supplying export markets. Fruit that does not meet export standards is usually used for processing. South African deliveries of tangerines/mandarins for processing typically average about 17% of total production. USDA FAS forecasts tangerine/mandarin deliveries for processing will decrease to 73,000 MT in 2022–23, down 4% from 2021–22, due to growth in exports.

South Africa’s exports of tangerines/mandarins are projected to grow by 7.5% in 2022–23 to reach a record level of 560,000 MT.

The EU and the UK are the largest foreign markets for South African tangerines/mandarins, accounting for 45% of total exports, followed by the United States (10%), Russia (10%), the United Arab Emirates (8%) and China (4%).

South Africa’s exports of tangerines/mandarins to the United States have grown exponentially over the past five years, from 13,695 MT in 2017–18 to 53,489 MT in 2021–22. This growth trend is expected to continue based on the expanding consumer preference for easy peeling varieties, assuming continued duty-free market access.

USDA FAS estimates that South Africa’s imports of tangerines/mandarins will remain flat at 3,000 MT in 2022–23. South Africa imports minimal volumes of citrus to satisfy off-season demand.

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

Source: USDA FAS

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