SOUTH AFRICA – South Africa, renowned as Africa’s top exporter of oranges, is gearing up to introduce a staggering 83.6 million cartons of oranges to the global market in 2024 according to projections unveiled by the South African Citrus Growers Association (CGA).

Forecasts from CGA paint a promising picture, anticipating a substantial increase in exports, despite prevailing challenges in both domestic and international arenas.

“These cartons are equivalent to 1.25 million tons of oranges, with each carton weighing 15 kilograms,” outlined Justin Chadwick CEO at CGA in his latest newsletter. “This estimation marks a notable 16% uptick compared to the previous season, indicating the industry’s resilience amidst adversities.”

The driving force behind this anticipated growth lies predominantly in the Valencia orange variety, constituting roughly 70% of the projected stock, while the remaining shipments will comprise Navel oranges.

Amidst a backdrop of challenging socio-economic conditions domestically and hurdles in international markets, the resilience of South Africa’s citrus industry shines through in these optimistic forecasts.

The CGA attributes this surge not only to the unwavering dedication of citrus growers but also to the resilience displayed in the face of mounting input costs, electricity supply disruptions, and a declining public infrastructure.

Additionally, the entry of younger trees into production across various regions contributes to the anticipated increase in output.

However, amidst these promising prospects, challenges loom, particularly concerning market access. Accessing the European Union market, which traditionally serves as a primary destination for South African citrus fruits, poses a significant hurdle due to regulations surrounding the False Codling Moth (FCM) enforced since July 2022.

Looking beyond the immediate future, the citrus industry is not resting on its laurels. In line with its commitment to fostering growth and innovation, the CGA is spearheading strategic initiatives aimed at fortifying the sector’s infrastructure and expanding its global reach.

Collaboration emerges as a central theme, with efforts focused on integration, information-sharing, and addressing logistical bottlenecks.

Two key strategic projects according to Chadwick reflect the industry’s proactive stance. Firstly, recognizing the pivotal role of rail transportation in the citrus supply chain, the CGA has enlisted the expertise of former Transnet Freight Rail Executive, Jan-Louis Spoelstra, to navigate the evolving rail landscape and steer progressive rail-aligned projects.

“Efforts are underway to optimize rail transport for citrus shipments from hinterlands to port precincts. With the guidance of former Transnet Freight Rail Executive Jan-Louis Spoelstra, we aim to navigate the evolving rail landscape and propel progressive rail-aligned projects forward,” highlighted Chadwick.

Secondly, in a bid to leverage the potential of the Maputo port, the CGA and FPEF are rallying a working group dedicated to enhancing citrus exports from this strategic gateway, with an eye towards tapping into emerging markets in Asia and beyond.

As South Africa gears up for a dynamic citrus export season in 2024, collaboration, resilience, and strategic foresight emerge as cornerstones in navigating the challenges and seizing the abundant opportunities that lie ahead.

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