South Africa is increasing plantings of many citrus varieties, including oranges, lemons, and soft citrus (clementines, mandarins, satsumas)—lemons and soft citrus tree plantings are growing especially quickly. Lemon bearing trees and production are up 12 percent and 49 percent, respectively, over two years, while soft citrus bearing trees and production are up 8 percent and 13 percent, respectively.
Nearly 27 percent of SA’s 2017/18 lemon crop will head for processing, or 123,000 MT, more than double the volume utilized just two seasons ago. South Africa has a long way to go to compete with top-producer Argentina—which processes around 1.0 MMT of lemons per year, or about 75 percent of its crop—but SA lemon juice is worth watching in the global market.
South Africa exports about 85 percent of its orange crop and processes about 10 percent. Europe takes 40 percent of SA fresh orange exports, and Asia and the Middle East are also important destinations. The U.S. is SA’s tenth largest fresh orange export market but is a larger market for SA soft citrus: U.S. imports have increased 15 percent per year since 2014, according to USDA, and the U.S. is currently SA’s fifth largest destination for soft citrus varieties.
SA orange juice production is increasing as processors are able to secure better fruit due to improved overall crop quality. USDA estimates South Africa will produce 30,000 MT of OJ this season, up 55 percent from last season.
South African citrus bearing trees