South Africa will have excellent citrus harvest

The Citrus Growers Association of Southern Africa has said citrus fruit quality for 2024 looks excellent, and the harvesting timing is expected to be normal.

CEO Justin Chadwick said overall, an increase in export volume is expected. “This is a testament to the resilience of South African citrus growers, who produce more citrus under challenging circumstances, such as steep increases in input costs, load shedding, and deteriorating public infrastructure. This increase is also a result of younger trees coming into production across several regions.”

The current prediction is that 37,9 million (15kg) cartons of lemons will be exported to key markets, which is an increase of 7% over last year. This continues the upward curve of Lemon exports, which has more than doubled since 2016.

Figures for oranges are also expected to be up. Predictions show a 4% increase in export volume for Navel oranges, with 25,6 million (15kg) cartons expected to be packed. After two years of suppressed Valencia orange exports, production is likely to improve in 2024 and return to the long-term trajectory.

An increase on 2023 export volumes of 12% to 58 million (15kg) cartons is projected. However, the Orange Focus Group highlighted that due to substantially higher returns expected for fruit being supplied to local processors, exports could be reduced by up to 5%. This has not been factored into the forecast of 58 million cartons.

Grapefruit exports are also predicted to increase back up to the long-term average. The 14% growth figure translates into 16,7 million (15kg) cartons. The increased export volume can partly be ascribed to processing fruit once again being exported to China, which was not the case last year.

The Satsuma season is likely to close around the 1,7 million mark (up 16%), while Clementines and Novas are expected to reach 5,4 million (up 8%) and 4,5 million (up 8%), respectively.

Chadwick said the focus will now be on market access issues within the European Union, a vital market for South Africa.

“There will also be an increased focus on logistics matters, particularly the efficiency of the Durban port. The success of the citrus export season will require the government’s collaboration, particularly on market access matters.”

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