It is peak citrus time, which is great news. Not only are these delicious juicy fruits at their best flavour-wise, but they are also packed with vitamin C to help ward off winter colds, naturally.
Citrus exports from the Southern Hemisphere this season have been forecast 12% higher year-on-year, driven by increased in lemons and soft citrus.
However, the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted the Cape Town container terminal which has only been able to operate at 50% capacity due to high numbers of staff being affected by the pandemic. Exports of citrus are continuing from Cape Town with a main focus on services to Europe, UK, Med, Russia and North America.
Due to delayed berthing, shipments are being delayed. Citrus containerized exports from the Western Cape are being trucked in high volume other ports for exporting to ensure continuity in supply to markets.
The South African lemon industry is being very cautious with its export prospects. Large volumes are now on the way, but the large volumes from South Africa and Argentina may put pressure on the market. Exports are currently predicted to amount to 27.1 million boxes (15kg each), which is 5 million more boxes than last year. This increase is mainly a result of acreage expansion. Although the planting of new lemon trees has slowed down, more than 43% of all South African trees are four years old or younger.
The season started earlier this time. The volume of the Citrus fruit category exported is already greater than last year, with much of it going to the Middle East.
See table below (Source: PPECB/Agrihub)
Soft Citrus has also revealed good growth in volumes during 2020. Currently, Europeans and UK price levels are better than last year when looking at kg prices. However, large volumes have been loaded to both Europe and England. The drive is supermarket sales. We will have to see how the extra volumes affect the market.
Ytd shipments from South Africa are showing 500K cartons shipped more compared to 2019 and 400K cartons more compared to 2018.
In July, a meeting of the membership by WCO (World Citrus Organization) will review the state of the industry and take stock of the latest consumer trends and producing countries’ experiences in the midst of the coronavirus crisis.
In the past months, citrus has been highlighted as one of the most attractive fruit categories for consumers, given their health properties.