Sector sees big rise in exports of mandarins and clementines in 2023
Chilean citrus exports grew 48 per cent in 2023. The figure was 16 per cent on the average over the last three seasons, according to the figures released by the Chilean Citrus Committee.
A total of 395,889 tonnes were exported, of which 15.5 per cent was clementines, 43.7 per cent mandarins, 23.7 per cent to oranges and 17.1 per cent lemons.
The committee’s president, Juan Enrique Ortúzar, said the increased volume had been a “positive surprise” for the sector.
“In clementines, the export volume recovered very strongly, in mandarins we almost doubled last year’s total export. In lemons we recovered somewhat and in oranges we also finished well, therefore, it was a season in which volumes recovered strongly,” he said.
“The market was relatively stable, in clementines, despite the increase in volume, the market remained at a certain acceptable level in prices and from that point of view the season ended well.”
Regarding markets, Chile was able to capitalise on the drop in Peruvian mandarin production this year. Ortúzar said it had been a good season in the US, the biggest taker of Chilean citrus, but it remained to be seen how Chile will perform next season.
“The Asian market and countries like Japan and Korea are very important for Chilean lemons. Japan is an important market but it is not growing, therefore, volumes are adjusted for higher quality fruit. It is a very demanding market, so quality fruit is relatively limited,” he added.
Despite the big rise in volumes, Ortúzar stressed that the season had brought many challenges, including strengthening competition.
“The competition did not disappear, but we had favourable circumstances that allowed everything to end well. However, there is strong competition in the market, which means we cannot continue growing indefinitely,” he noted.
Ortúzar said the increase in Argentine lemon production is hitting Chile hard, while South Africa is maintaining its output in oranges.
He noted that drought continues to be a big problem in Chile, although “this year somehow there was enough water to irrigate clementines, lemons, mandarins in the IV region. The season comes with less water, since it rained very little, therefore, we are complicated for this season. “It will be a difficult season in terms of drought.””.
Ortúzar added that it was as yet unknown what impact the very cold spring and El Niño will have on next season’s crop.