USDA report notes domestic citrus is increasingly competitive, requiring imported fruit to turn to branding to differentiate  

Domestic citrus production in China remains consistently strong and is expected to continue to grow in 2023/24 (12 months to 31 October 2024), according to a USDA report. The forecast comes after favourable weather conditions in 2023 and replanted crops once again producing fruit following bouts of citrus greening disease in previous years.  


Domestic citrus production in China is expected to continue to grow

Healthy domestic supply, and an increasingly cost-conscious consumer market, could also see premium imported fruit volumes decline for some lines. The report predicted orange imports to be slightly down year-on-year at 210,000 tonnes, marking a decrease of 4.6 per cent on 2022/23. Pomelo and grapefruit imports are expected to remain flat at 75,000 tonnes after a 31.8 per cent decline from the previous year in 2022/23 while mandarins and tangerines are expected to reach 70,000 tonnes, up 4 per cent from the revised 2022/23 data. 

Despite these predictions, the report noted that China’s demand for citrus remains high. It said that freshness, taste, appearance, and confidence in quality are major factors for Chinese consumers – particularly the growing middle class – and there is demand for well-branded citrus products. The USDA cited domestic citrus suppliers building their own brands where none existed before as confirmation of this trend as well as the increased popularity of private label products. 

The report said retailers are showing interest in new, well-branded fruit including major supermarket chains which are said to have signed service contracts with key imported fruit suppliers to guarantee fruit quality and superior service.  

In addition to in-store shopping, the USDA is optimistic e-commerce will continue to grow, particularly given the ease of online marketing channels.  

These predictions come off the back of eased Covid-19 restrictions at the beginning of 2023, including Covid-19 testing, and disinfection measures imposed on imported fruit.