Weak international demand and unfavourable weather conditions are taking their toll on South American citrus exports with each of the region’s country suppliers – except Chile – reporting a decline in volume for every citrus category this season.
Prices for a range of South American citrus categories, especially lemons, are lower than at the same time last year on the global market, according to Chilean market analyst and service provider Decofrut, as demand for fruit has contracted in many key export destinations on the back of the recession.
“Markets in Europe, the US and Asia (especially Japan), are quite flat because of oversupply and low consumption,” Decofrut’s Manuel Alcaíno told Fruitnet.com. “Europe has an abundance of local lemons, especially from Spain, which has pushed down prices by as much as 60 per cent compared with last season. The current level of demand is insufficient to absorb the volume on offer and prices for the first arrivals from South Africa and Argentina have been very low indeed.”
Argentinean lemon exports are forecast to fall by 30 per cent to 260,000 tonnes in 2009, Decofrut said. Uruguay will also see a 20 per cent reduction in shipments to 12,000 tonnes, while Chilean volume could contract by 8 per cent to 37,580 tonnes in comparison to 2008 despite an anticipated growth in production following benign weather conditions.
Argentina’s orange shipments, meanwhile, are forecast to decline by 17.4 per cent to 100,000 tonnes, according to Decofrut, with grapefruit volume set to dip 2 per cent to 32,000 tonnes. Uruguay’s orange and grapefruit exports will also decline by 15.4 per cent and 1 per cent to 88,000 tonnes and 600 tonnes respectively, and Decofrut expects Uruguay will increase its presence on alternative markets in the Middle East, Latin America and North America.
Following the opening up of the US market to Chilean oranges and grapefruit, Chilean exports could rise slightly in 2009. Early estimates from the Southern Hemisphere Association of Fresh Fruit Exporters (SHAFFE) peg orange shipments at 34,000 tonnes (up 20 per cent on 2008) with grapefruit at 2,500 tonnes (an increase of 150 per cent).
In the easy peeler category, Decofrut also forecasts Chilean sendings to increase to 27,874 tonnes, while neighbouring country suppliers will each experience a decrease in volume this year.
SHAFFE anticipates a 22 per cent reduction in Argentinean easy peeler exports to 75,000 tonnes, a 6 per cent contraction in Uruguayan volume to 36,000 tonnes and a 4 per cent shortfall in Peruvian shipments to 46,400 tonnes.