We have received the full crop estimate for the 2023 citrus crop in South Africa. The latest estimate is 165.6 million cartons, which comes in at 800,000 more than last year.
Two interesting commodities have emerged in the industry over the past few years. Lemons have witnessed a significant surge in plantings over the past few years. Currently, there are approximately 8,000 hectares of lemon trees that are less than six years old, with approximately 1,750 hectares of that falling into the category of being four years or younger. Looking at Mandarins, we are seeing that there are approximately 13,500 hectares of Mandarin orchards that are six years or younger, with around 7,300 hectares of that being four years or younger.
When looking at the fruit production, all indications point to slightly larger fruit size this season. This is promising as the overall volume will not be negatively affected.
Lemon packing began in week 4, and over 9 million cartons have already left South African shores since then. The Eastern Cape started packing large volumes of Lemons and supply is good at this stage.
As of week 18, Grapefruit packing is already 30% complete with 3.7 million cartons packed so far. The peak sizes for Grapefruits are ranging from 40 to 45 and 50.
The packing process for Navels has just begun. The higher-than-normal rains in Limpopo and Mpumalanga have caused a slowdown in the packing of these oranges. Nevertheless, volume is expected to pick up quickly over the next 2 weeks, and the sizing of the fruit is slightly larger compared to last year.
The first Turkey Valencias are set to start in week 22, with the bulk volume becoming available from week 24 onwards. The size of Valencias is expected to be ideal for markets seeking larger fruit; however, this may create a shortage for markets in areas such as Bangladesh, Malaysia, and Singapore. As for Midnights, the earliest start is projected to be around week 26, with bulk volumes anticipated in week 28.
From a marketing perspective, the prevalent issues of inflation and the rising cost of living are particularly impacting European demand, which in turn affects the buying power of consumers.
On the logistics front, there are concerns regarding exports to the EU during the peak of the orange season due to the new cold treatment regulations. These shifts will put immense strain on all aspects of the logistical infrastructure. Cold storage space will be in high demand, and the electricity situation in South Africa will make meeting these demands extremely challenging.
Looking ahead over the next five years, we anticipate significant growth in Soft Citrus and Lemon production. Valencia oranges are expected to continue with normal growth, but there is an anticipated decline in Grapefruit and more traditional Navel oranges.
Every day is different at Vanguard; with new growers joining our community, new crops and fresh varieties being introduced, and new markets opening. Keep up to date with what’s happening in our expanding world.