Bad weather in Spain and enforced coronavirus lockdowns have caused an explosive demand for citrus in Europe. The market situation, therefore, looks entirely different from that of last year. As does the start of the 2020 Southern Hemisphere citrus season. Orange and lemon supplies in Spain, Morocco, and Egypt are considerably lower. So, South Africa could enter the market earlier with lemons, among other products. That county’s lemon production acreage is still expanding.
The volume of citrus this year can be compared to 2018
But the overseas citrus season isn’t comprised entirely of South African products. Even though most of it comes from there. Argentina is, for example, an important lemon producer. Uruguay and Brazil both have modest volumes. Much of the South American citrus is, however, destined for the processing industry.
But there’s a player that is growing on the citrus market – Peru. This country’s focusing on robust varieties such as the satsuma, and mineola. They also cultivate the later mandarin varieties like the tango en w.murcot. For this article, we spoke to two overseas citrus importers – Exsa Europe’s Niek van Rijsbergen and Jan Rozema of SFI. Both of these companies are based in the Netherlands.
SFI’s been importing citrus from the Southern Hemisphere since the 70s. At first, it mostly focused on Argentinian lemons and grapefruits from Florida and Texas. “There was, however, much demand for a total overseas citrus package from our clients,” says Jan. “That’s why we started importing citrus from South Africa. Initially, a part was done via agents and third parties. But, we wanted to strengthen our market position by having direct lines to producers. Now we work with various producers throughout South Africa.”
With regard to cultivation, the first estimates are that the volume is comparable to 2018, photo SFI
Between May and October, SFI focuses on overseas citrus. “The top and stone fruit seasons peaks are over now. This year was, of course, difficult, with many market extremes. But, fortunately, we work in the right sector and had broad sales across Europe. For example, we’ve had an office with an experienced sales team in Hamburg, Germany, for many years. They focus mainly on the German, Swiss, and Austrian markets. We can also offer citrus in different consumer packages with a (private) label.” – freshplaza.com