After a year of high demand on the orange market, fuelled by the coronavirus, 2021 has started with slightly less positive market conditions. Prices are under pressure due to the high volumes on the market. Other than Spanish, there are also Turkish, Egyptian, and Moroccan oranges on the market. The first oranges have been harvested in the Southern Hemisphere and larger volumes are expected in the coming months. In South Africa, there have been some problems with the weather, but in general, normal volumes of high-quality oranges are expected.
“The sale of oranges is not easy now. While everyone was buying citrus last year after the coronavirus pandemic hit, that enthusiasm is now much more limited,” says an importer. “Also, we are missing our sales to the catering industry, which normally absorb many oranges. Simply put, fewer oranges are consumed and squeezed than are available. Prices are therefore under pressure. Spanish growers want a lot more money than the market is willing to pay, and Egypt seems to have infinite volumes. All in all, it is a very difficult market.”
The conditions in Belgium’s orange market have been positive throughout the season. December was a very busy month, but after the turn of the year, the demand has somewhat returned to normal levels. “Sales went smoothly, and the quality of the Spanish citrus has been very good,” says a Belgian trader. Besides the Spanish supply, there is currently also fruit from Turkey, Morocco, and Egypt on the market. The arrival of these extra volumes is putting some pressure on the market, which is detrimental to prices.
In Germany, the supply currently comes mainly from Spain and Egypt. Spain dominates in the table orange segment with the late varieties Lane Late, Navelate, and Salustiana. Egypt is currently the main supplier of juicing oranges, especially Valencia Late. Turkey also has some presence here and there with the Washington Navel. For blood oranges, Italy is now alone on the market with the Moro.
The prices of blood oranges are significantly higher than at the same time last year. Egypt’s prices, however, have fallen below last year’s. For the time being, the Spanish season is having a satisfactory development. The demand has declined somewhat in the second half of the season, while thicker sizes are relatively scarce.
In the long run, Egypt continues gaining ground, especially in the discount segment. At the same time, there is less and less room in the market for Turkish and Moroccan oranges. There is still room for new, innovative varieties, especially in the table orange segment. The Cara Cara and the Powell, among others, are in great demand in the German wholesale trade.
The Sicilian orange season has never been more controversial than this year. Prices are changing very quickly. One day, they stand at €0,25; the next day at between €0,30 and €0,50. As a result, proper planning is not possible. The growing season was severely affected by 55 days of winter rain, causing production to drop by 30%. Despite this, the volumes on the market are very high and some even talk of oversupply. Given the lack of market balance, a lot of fruit is sold to the processing industry.
Not only Sicilian companies seem to be affected by the orange crisis, but also those in the Ionian part of Italy. “The demand for oranges has fallen dramatically in both the domestic and the European market, and the prices of Navel oranges reach €0,15/kg at most. Albania may be the only country where Italian oranges are in demand, given the unsuitability of Greek oranges following the frosts in recent weeks,” says a trader.
A trader from the north of Italy reports that orange prices stand at below average levels. This has been the situation since the beginning of the season and is the result of various factors. First, the sizes available are on the small side. In the north of the country, the wholesale prices of the largest sizes range between €1,20 and €1,40/kg. However, most lots consist of smaller sizes that do not reach these prices. Organic oranges are an exception. According to the trader, there is a high demand for organic oranges and the prices are at a good level.
Spain is currently supplying Lane Late oranges, and it will start shipping Barfield, Powel, and Chislett Navel oranges in April, which will be followed by Valencia oranges at the end of May and June. Spanish orange sales are said to be generally quiet now due to skyrocketing prices at origin and fierce competition from Egypt and Turkey. “The price of Egyptian oranges in the markets is the same as that of Spanish oranges at origin. Our margins are now so tight that we barely make a profit,” says a Spanish exporter.
This year, due to the frost, there has been a drop in the production of late varieties in Andalusia. The production of these varieties has also dropped to a lesser extent in the region of Valencia, where the showers and frosts in January reduced the volumes a little more in some specific growing areas. Speculation in the field is a source of stress for traders, as marketing companies want to be assured of an adequate supply. Some exporters also fear that the oranges of which the quality has been affected by the frost, could have been put on the market, as that would have a negative impact on sales.
The Egyptian and Turkish orange season is expected to end around May to June, but citrus consumption will be lower due to the start of the summer fruit season. In the second phase of their campaign, Egypt is becoming an increasingly fierce competitor for Spanish oranges. “In addition to competitive prices, Egypt is managing to extend its season and gradually improve its cultivation methods and the quality of its oranges. Competition from third-world countries is becoming dangerously stronger every year. Challenging times are coming for Spanish oranges,” says the exporter.
The season for Valencia oranges in Egypt is well underway. The demand was very low two months ago, but it has now risen to a good level. Prices are slightly lower compared with a month ago, as the supply is growing. The exported volumes are already 30% higher than they were around this time last year.
India and China are particularly interesting markets, and the demand is also increasing in Europe now that the Spanish season has come to an end. Since it will still take at least two months before South Africa starts its Navel season, Egyptian oranges will have the largest market share in the world in the coming months.
“The demand is probably better than usual because of Covid-19,” says a Californian trader. The supply of Navel oranges has been good. Currently, the trader is working with its spring and Washington variety. Orange prices have been strong and, looking ahead, the trader expects strong demand to continue due to the warmer weather. Meanwhile, there is also strong demand for oranges from Florida.
The harvest of the early Navel oranges has started in Letsitele. The average domestic price is R9,34/kg. According to a trader, the harvest started later this year and the volumes have fallen below last year’s level. The volumes of Navel oranges in the Limpopo Senwes area (Marble Hall/Groblersdal) have recovered to normal levels and a good harvest is expected.
In the Eastern Cape Sunday’s River Valley (Kirkwood, Addo), the production is also looking good, and a slight increase is expected. However, in the Gamtoos Valley (Patensie, Hankey), the ongoing dry weather is expected to have a considerable impact on volumes and sizes. A fairly normal harvest is also expected in the Western Cape, albeit 10% smaller than last year’s harvest. Across the country, Navel volumes are expected to be mostly in line with last year’s (Navel exports in 2020 stood at 25,2 million 15kg boxes). The early Navel export starts at around week 16 or 17.
The Valencia oranges in Letsitele and Hoedspruit (province of Limpopo) have recovered well, thanks to the beneficial summer rain, and good harvests are expected. Lower Valencia volumes are expected in the Eastern and Western Cape, although still above the five-year average. In total, an increase of approximately 7% is estimated, compared with the 46,9 million 15kg boxes of 2020. There is a normal distribution of sizes.
Exporters expect good sales for oranges due to the coronavirus and the extra demand for vitamin C. The export of Valencia oranges starts at around week 20.
The Navel orange season kicks off around early June in week 23 and lasts until week 35. The volumes from Chile are expected to be similar to those of previous years. The oranges from Chile are mainly shipped to the United States (US) and Asia.
The orange season in Argentina starts in May, around week 20, with the Navel oranges. The Salustianas arrive in week 26 and are followed closely by the Valencia oranges in week 27. The quality and sizes of these oranges are expected to be good, and larger volumes are also expected this season. Dry weather in the spring and summer ensure that the quality will be good this season. Although the sizes may be slightly smaller, acceptable sizes are still expected. Argentina’s oranges mainly go to Europe, the Middle East, Russia, and Canada.
The prospects for the Uruguayan orange season are similar to Argentina’s. The campaign starts in May, around week 20, and good quality and sizes are expected because of the dry weather. The total volume has had a slight increase. The markets for Uruguay are also in Europe, the Middle East, Russia, and Canada. The season runs up to and including week 45 with the Valencia oranges. The supply of Navels finishes in week 34 already.
In the previous citrus season, many large production areas in the south of the country suffered the impact of hail and rain. As a result, a large part of the citrus production has experienced quality problems, which have an impact on the entire citrus market. Since November last year, the citrus market has been very unpredictable, which created major challenges for growers and traders. Some of the bad batches have now disappeared from the market and are being replaced by good ones.
This year, Spanish oranges have been allowed to be imported, but many Chinese importers will not import oranges this season. Egyptian and US oranges are currently on the market. The volumes available are limited and this is putting some pressure on prices. The demand, on the other hand, is good. Last year, the Chinese market also opened to Chilean oranges. Various importers have announced that they want to import the first volumes in the coming season.
Australia is getting ready for the Navel orange season and, according to the latest Hort Innovation statistics, 511 345 tons of oranges were produced in the year ending in June 2020; a 3% drop compared with the previous year. However, the value of that production increased by 4%, to $414,7 million. About 38% of the total orange production went to the processing industry, mainly for juice manufacturing. Fresh orange exports also increased by 7% in terms of volume, to 201,268 tons worth $310,1 million.
Navel oranges accounted for 87% of the production shipped to the fresh market, and Valencia oranges for 13%. The small remaining volumes correspond to other varieties, such as blood oranges and Cara Cara oranges. Approximately 62% of Australian households bought fresh oranges during the year. – Fresh Plaza