Egyptian citrus could be on the way to the U.S. market after a request was made to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). A pest risk assessment has been drafted by USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).
Jim Cranney, president of the California Citrus Quality Council (CCQC), said the assessment is for fresh oranges and tangerines, which would be problematic for California growers.
“This is a very big threat to the California citrus industry because the fruit that Egypt produces is very low cost in terms of their production. They could land very cheap fruit in the U.S. market that would be directly competing with California production,” said Cranney. “We’ve all been telling APHIS that this would be a calamity really for the California citrus industry.”
The domestic market is the most significant one for California citrus. Cranney said while there is a sizable number of exports, the United States is where the majority of the industry’s marketing efforts are focused. Egyptian citrus moving into the United States would have a significant impact on the competitiveness of American producers. “With that cheaper fruit coming in, we would expect retailers to be bidding down the price, and that would end up being lower prices for growers,” Cranney explained.
According to USDA, Egypt’s orange production for 2022–23 is estimated at 3.6 million tons. Exports are also projected to increase.
Cranney said Egypt is a difficult competitor, having run into some challenges in the main export markets for California citrus. CCQC, California Citrus Mutual and Sunkist have all submitted comments to APHIS highlighting the detrimental effects Egyptian citrus would have on U.S. producers. While no timeline for a decision from APHIS has been set, Cranney is hoping it will be delayed as long as possible.
“Every season we get, or every part of the season we get that we’re not in this direct competition with Egypt would be beneficial for the industry,” said Cranney.
Source: AgNet West
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