Ten months ago, in March 2020, the citrus industry predicted a bumper export season, estimating that export volumes would reach 143 million cartons of fruit. Now that the final export figures are in, the Citrus Growers Association (CGA) is proud to announce a record-breaking 2020 export season. Altogether 146 million cartons of South African citrus were exported globally.

These figures indicate phenomenal growth within the South African citrus industry, which remains the second-largest exporter of fresh citrus in the world, after Spain. This achievement is the result of close collaborations and partnerships within the industry, as well as government and is testament to the quality of South African citrus fruit, which is in demand all over the world.

It is difficult to tangibly quantify the size and volume of the citrus exported last year, but if we were to stack 146 million cartons of fruit side by side, the line of cartons would span approximately 40 000km in length. That is equal to the height of 4,4 Mount Everests stacked on top of one another.

Prospects for more growth

This record-breaking export season follows the gazetting of the new citrus export levy last month, which we believe will enable the citrus industry to grow its global market share even further by reinvesting grower funds into research, market access, and transformation.

As a result, we hope to create even more jobs and increase revenue for the country’s economy over the next four years. Our current estimates indicate that the citrus industry is expected to increase its exports by another 300 000 tons over the next three years. The growth projections for soft citrus, lemons, and Valencia oranges alone indicate an expected additional R6,8 billion in foreign exchange earnings and the creation of 22 250 sustainable jobs over the next three years.

This is excellent news for both the citrus industry and South Africa as we begin to rise from the devastation of Covid-19. We look forward to playing our part in rebuilding the economy and getting South Africa back on a firm financial footing. To this end, we are committed to working with all our stakeholders and partners in government to open more international doors for our fruit.

If we can continue to gain and expand access in key markets such as the European Union, the US, China, and India, there is no reason why South Africa will not meet long-term industry projections to export 200 million cartons of citrus fruit within the next five years. We look forward to playing our part in South Africa’s economic reconstruction and recovery plan by increasing agricultural exports, creating jobs, and continuing to invest in transformation. Together, we can change the lives of many South Africans for the better. – Press release, Citrus Growers Association