SOUTH AFRICA – The South African citrus industry expects to break all export season records, with an estimated 158.7 million cartons this year.

If this estimate was reached, it would represent a third consecutive season of record export volumes, with 130 million cartons exported in 2019 and 146 million cartons last year.

This is according to projections by the Citrus Growers Association of Southern Africa (CGA), indicating a 22 percent growth in exports in just two years.

Medium-term crop estimates indicate that the citrus industry is expected to continue increasing its exports by another 300,000 tons over the next three years.

“These figures indicate phenomenal growth within the South African citrus industry and for the local economy.

“The demand for South African produce overseas is a wonderful testament to the quality of South Africa’s citrus fruit. There is no doubt that citrus growers are investing heavily for the future,” CGA CEO Justin Chadwick said.

Recently South Africa entered the Chinese lemon market and undertook first shipment of the its citrus to the Philippines.

The CGA further indicated that the rise in exports called for rise in efficiency of the country’s ports in order to successfully ship the additional 13 million cartons estimated for this year alone.

“The industry has urgently called for ports to open for 24 hours in order to catch up on backlogs and ensure the export season continues to run smoothly.”

Citrus Growers Association of Southern Africa CEO – Justin Chadwick

Citrus growers call for ports to open 24 hours

Following the recent shipping delays brought about by the shutdown of ports in KwaZulu-Natal as a result of the riots that erupted in the country, the association has called for ports to open for 24 hours in order to address backlogs to ensure the export season continued to run smoothly.

Chadwick, said the backlog in Durban could have a knock-on effect at ports in the Eastern Cape and the Western Cape that were reliant on refrigerated containers flowing from Durban.

“The industry has, therefore, urgently called for ports to open for 24 hours in order to catch up on backlogs and ensure the export season continues to run smoothly,” said Chadwick.

The CGA said it strongly condemned the recent spate of looting and arson that had disrupted the citrus value chain, and most critically, resulted in the closure of the Durban port.

The industry vowed that it would continue to ensure that citrus was exported to key markets.

Last week saw little impact on the volume of citrus exported to markets including the EU, the Middle East, China and the US.

The association said in order to ensure the full recovery of the value chain in KwaZulu-Natal, the CGA had been engaging with stakeholders in the public and private sectors daily to obtain updates on the situation on the ground and to identify any risks. Chadwick has however indicated that food shortages is still an immediate threat in a number of areas in KwaZulu-Natal and that the citrus industry was engaging with the government on any assistance it could provide to deliver food and necessities to communities impacted by the unrest.