USDA report predicts China orange production to increase while imports lower slightly in 2023/24 

China’s domestic orange production has been forecast to rise in 2023/24 (12 months to October 31 2024) according to a USDA report, with increased volumes to potentially affect the import market. 

Navel oranges

Lower Brix levels are likely to affect prices of navel oranges

The report predicted production to reach 7.63m tonne driven by a growth in key production regions. 

Jiangxi province, which is China’s largest producer of navel oranges, will contribute to this number with an expected 15 per cent increase due to heavy rainfall from July to September and replanted trees following bouts of citrus greening disease bearing more fruit. While this rain has contributed to higher output, it is anticipated to lower the Brix level of the fruit, lowering the overall quality.  

In contrast, the Hunan and Hubei regions are expected to have improved quality of fruit this season although production levels remain the same. 

Lower Brix levels are likely to affect prices of navel oranges with packers and distributors predicting a slump of 12-30 per cent year-on-year.  The USDA report cited orchard prices for average Navel oranges at Rmb3.6-4.8 (US$0.51-US$0.69) per kg with average orchard unit prices in Hubei and Hunan around US$0.05 less.  

According to the report, this strong domestic production is also decreasing the need for imported oranges. However, an increasingly cost-conscious consumer base may also be contributing to the decrease in imported fruit, which is usually sold at a premium. The report predicted orange imports to be slightly down year-on-year at 210,000 tonnes. This comes after a decrease of 4.6 per cent in 2022/23.  

Exports are expected to remain stable at 50,000 tonnes due to increase in product and a rebound in demand from Russia following restricted trade in response to war in Ukraine.