BELGIUM – The World Citrus Organization (WCO) has unveiled its eagerly anticipated Northern Hemisphere Citrus Forecast for the imminent citrus season (2023-24), offering an optimistic outlook on production after a challenging period.

Revealed during the Global Citrus Outlook conference held on November 15, the forecast draws insights from key citrus-producing countries, including Egypt, Greece, Israel, Italy, Morocco, Spain, Tunisia, Turkey, and the United States.

Projections indicate a notable upturn in citrus production, with an estimated 28,976,001 tons anticipated for the upcoming season.

This figure signifies a substantial 12.2% increase compared to the previous season’s low and stands 1.48% higher than the average of the past four seasons.

The forecast, relying on data from industry associations in the Mediterranean region and the United States, further highlights an upward trajectory in total citrus exports.

“Expectations are set at 9,483,770 tons, marking an 11.4% surge from the previous season and a 4.5% increase from the average of the last four seasons,” outlines WCO.

Philippe Binard, Secretary General of the WCO, expressed optimism regarding the forecasted recovery, stating, “The market insights we received indicate a recovery from the low point of last season.”

Binard attributed this growth primarily to Turkey and Egypt, noting stability or marginal gains in other contributing countries.

Eric Imbert from CIRAD, while acknowledging the positive trajectory shown in this year’s forecast across various producing countries and citrus categories, cautioned about multifaceted factors influencing market dynamics.

He emphasized the impact of climatic challenges such as frost, drought, heat waves, and the emergence of new pests and diseases on production quality, coloring, and harvest timing.

Imbert also highlighted market volatility due to geopolitical instability, consumer purchasing power limitations, and inflation exerting pressure on consumer demand.

Analyzing country-specific data, Spain’s citrus production is projected at 5.9 million tons, witnessing a 2% increase from previous seasons.

Italy follows suit with a 6% rise, reaching 2.6 million tons, driven by a surge in oranges. Greece, however, experienced a 7% decline, totaling 1.1 million tons.

In the Mediterranean region, Turkey emerges as a market leader with a forecast of 6.5 million tons, a remarkable 45% increase attributed to expanded acreage, enhanced productivity, favorable climatic conditions, and growth across all citrus categories.

Egypt anticipates a 10% increase, reaching 5.4 million tons, primarily driven by a surge in oranges and soft citrus.

Morocco’s production is set to rebound, surpassing 2 million tons, while Israel faces logistical challenges following recent conflicts, impacting supply and human resources for harvesting and packaging.

In the United States, a modest 1% increase in citrus production is expected, led by a surge in oranges but offset by reduced quantities of soft citrus and lemons.

Looking ahead, WCO foresees a global increase in citrus exports by 11% and an 8% rise in processing for the upcoming season. The forecast anticipates a boost in domestic sales by 14%, leaving promising prospects for the citrus industry.

The WCO plans to release the 2024 production and export forecast for the Southern Hemisphere in April, offering comprehensive insights into the global citrus market trends.

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