In the European Union (EU), the 2022/23 citrus fruit import campaign saw a significant increase in orange imports, surging by over 40% year-over-year (YoY). Citrus imports reached 2.14 million tons, a 12.6% YoY increase and almost 10% above the five-year average. Oranges constituted 49% of total citrus imports, with their value witnessing a 70% YoY growth. Moreover, South Africa remained the primary supplier, representing 42.5% of total citrus imports. Notably, Egypt experienced a substantial relative increase, contributing significantly to the rise in orange imports, which approached 500 thousand tons.
Spain's orange harvest began in mid-Nov-23, revealing a significant reduction in production due to extreme weather conditions, including alternating heat and frost waves. This led to quality issues and a decrease in orange production. The cooperative organizations predict that the orange production in the 2023/24 season will remain below the previous year's levels. Preliminary estimates suggest orange production reduction exceeding 20% for Andalusia, with some areas experiencing up to 50% reductions. Additionally, Spain is facing a delay in fruit ripening due to adverse weather conditions, extending the harvest timeline.
The demand for Sicilian Navelina oranges in Italy is currently limited but is anticipated to rise with the onset of cold weather in the coming days. Due to the high availability of the product, prices have seen a notable decrease compared to W47, reaching levels consistent with this time of the year. Despite the lower prices, the quality of the Navelina oranges remains reasonably good. As colder weather typically boosts demand for citrus fruits, market dynamics may see a positive shift soon.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) predicts a 30% YoY increase in Florida orange production compared to the previous season, with the entire crop expected to be around 20.5 million boxes. This is a significant improvement from the previous season's 15.9 million cases. The previous season saw a decline due to Hurricanes Ian and Nicole and Huanglongbing (HLB) disease, which led to production dropping to levels reminiscent of World War II. Although the USDA's forecast remains conservative, it suggests the potential for industry expansion. Hurricane Ian caused USD 675 million in damage to Florida's citrus groves, destroying between 9% and 11% of the state's citrus groves. California is expected to surpass Florida's orange production next season, with USDA projections for 44.5 million 80-pound (lb) boxes.
According to Fundecitrus' research, HLB or citrus greening, has affected 38% of Brazil's citrus area, potentially leading to a 60% drop in citrus yields over the next five years. HLB is a severe bacterial disease transmitted by insects, causing stunted growth, reduced fruit quality, and potential tree death. The annual HLB survey shows a 56% increase in affected areas, with 77 million diseased trees out of 203 million orange trees in the region. The regions with the highest incidence include Limeira, Brotas, Porto Ferreira, Duartina, and Avaré. Due to climatic factors and citrus greening, Brazilian orange juice stocks are at their lowest in 12 years, posing significant threats to the citrus industry.
Egypt plans to begin orange exports by December 15, 2023, with Navel Oranges and Baladi varieties. Due to the Spanish orange production shortage, demand for juicing-grade oranges is increasing, particularly from European juice and concentrate manufacturers. This has led to the highest price levels ever recorded in the Egyptian market, with suppliers offering an average of USD 420/ton free on board (FOB), compared to the past average of around USD 300/ton.