South African mandarins have seen harvest increases compared to the previous season of 8%. Argentinian and Turkish oranges, on the other hand, both saw declines in the harvest of 10%. Demand has been increasing as more customers, especially in Europe and North America, are purchasing products high in Vitamin C. However, due to logistical difficulties, it is currently uncertain whether this will lead to a substantial export increase.

In South Africa, soft citruses have been rising in popularity, with mandarins, in particular, the most widely planted. The most popular varieties are the Nardorcott, Nova, and Tango. The 2020 mandarin season is expected to run from March to August.

Harvest Estimates for 2019/2020
In the 2019/2020 season, production is forecast at 420K metric tons, an 8% increase from last year, of which 330K metric tons will be exported and 90K metric tons will be set aside for domestic consumption. Imports are expected to remain below 1.5K metric tons.

Export Trends in Recent Years
South Africa’s main export market is in the United Kingdom, followed by the Netherlands and Russia, and exports in 2019 up to September recorded at 75K metric tons, 61.3K metric tons, and 23.2K metric tons respectively. Exports are expected to increase by 12%, from 295K metric tons from 2018/2019 to 330K metric tons. South Africa caters to the global market more than the domestic one, hence the increasing trend.

Export Outlook for the 2020 Season
The US is an important emerging market for South African mandarins, with an average export increase rate of 15% as consumers prefer easy peeler fruits. Exports to the US have recorded a volume of 18.4K in 2019 up to September. With the coronavirus outbreak, exports are expected to increase further, with US authorities even suggesting lifting port restrictions to allow citruses to be delivered to all US ports.

The European Union market, on the other hand, has proved to be difficult to export, as it has strict phytosanitary requirements towards citrus imports for the prevention of citrus black spots (CBS). These requirements prove to be costly, and South Africa has not deemed it a very profitable market. Exports to France and Germany have continuously remained under 4K metric tons. However, this could change with the boost in demand for citrus products in the EU from COVID-19. Import regulations in the EU have been loosened to allow fresh fruits to be circulated quickly. Logistical issues are being alleviated as there has been an increase in the workforce at ports, and citrus exports have been given priority in ports to ensure a stable market. Source: