ZIMBABWE – Zimbabwe’s first citrus exports to China have commenced after its orchards and packing houses received the green light for exports in June this year.

According to Zimbabwe’s Plant Quarantine Services Institute (PQSI), the exports began with 12 containers which have already reached the Chinese market, and 34 more containers in transit.

The list includes 11 orchards and six packing facilities, as approved by China, and the initial batches which are compose entirely of oranges.

According to a report by the publication Produce Report, the first consignment was handled through the port of Durban in South Africa.

However, there are plans to shift to the port of Beira in Mozambique, which offers a shorter route and faster transit time.

“The pilot phase of the citrus exports to China began in August with containers of oranges from the Beit-bridge area being shipped via the Port of Durban,” said PQSI head, Nhamo Mudada.

To date we have issued phytosanitary certificates to export 46 containers of oranges to China with each container averaging 24 ton,”

Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency reports that the country’s export volume has risen by 46% since 2017, hitting 70 000-metric tons last year.

Zimbabwean fresh citrus fruits permitted for export to China include sweet oranges (Citrus sinensis), mandarins (Citrus reticulata), grapefruit (Citrus paradisi), lemons (Citrus limon), limes (Citrus aurantifolia), and bitter oranges (Citrus aurantium).

Citrus demand in China peaks

Meanwhile, in another report by FreshPlaza, imports and exports of citrus in China have all declined to varying degrees due to the impact of the epidemic in 2020.

For instance, the number of citrus imports for the year 2020 was 0.38 million tons, a year-on-year decrease of 32.3% whereas the number of Chinese citrus exports was 0.33 million tons, a year-on-year decrease of 67.3%.

However, with the development of the domestic economy and the continuous rise of people’s living standards, the demand for imported citrus is also rising, so the import volume of citrus continues to rise, reads the report.

The number of citruses imported by China from 2014 to 2019 has gradually increased, reaching 0.57 million tons in 2019.

The main imports are citrus varieties that are lacking in China, and the prices are relatively high, hence the current increase in demand.

Regionally, China imported the largest quantity of citrus from South Africa in 2020, amounting to 175.123 million U.S. dollars. This accounted for 35.6% of the total value of citrus imports.

This was followed by Australia, with an import value of 96.474 million U.S. dollars, accounting for 19.6%; third is from Egypt, the import amount was 92.328 million US dollars, accounting for 18.8%.

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