USDA Publishes South Africa Citrus Semi-Annual Report

On June 30, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) published the Citrus Semi-Annual Report for South Africa, covering oranges, grapefruit, tangerines and lemons/limes. The report forecasts the following for marketing year (MY) 2022/23:


  • Acreage declined by an estimated 3% to 107,906 acres from the previous year due to surges in input costs including high shipping rates and infrastructure inefficiencies.
  • Production is estimated to increase by 1% to 1.63 million metric tons (MMT) from the previous marketing year. This is lower than previously forecast, due to weather damage in some growing provinces.
  • Export volume will grow by an estimated 5% over the prior year and reach 1.36 MMT due to the production of more exportable fruit and favorable export conditions under the weakening South African currency. In MY 2020/21 and 2021/22 orange exports remained unchanged at 1.3 MMT despite growth in production, as a weak currency lowered real export prices and directed more fruit to the local market. In MY 2021/22, the U.S. received 4.5% of total South African exports of oranges by volume.
  • Exports to the EU – the top market, accounting for almost 40% of exports – are at risk in MY 2022/23 due to EU phytosanitary requirements that are the subject of ongoing WTO consultations. Resulting detention of containers in European port last year caused an estimated $12 million in losses and orange growers estimate that 120,000 MT of expected exports to the EU in MY 2022/23 may not ship.
  • The report also notes China has become the third largest export destination since the opening of the Port of Maputo in 2021 improved access to Asian and Middle East markets.
  • South Africa’s nominal orange imports will decrease to 3,000 MT as more product is exported and consumption will fall by 15% compared to the prior marketing year.


  • Acreage is estimated to grow by 1.2% to 20,947 acres from the previous year. In the past seven years South Africa’s grapefruit area has grown by 18% due to surges in global demand, but this is expected to flatten as input costs and shipping rates rise.
  • Production is predicted to increase to 420,000 metric tons (MT) due to widespread rain, an increase in young fruit bearing trees, and a return to normal yields.
  • Export volume will fall an estimated 8% from the prior year to 220,000 MT. In MY 2021/22 grapefruit exports decreased by 18% year-on-year to 237,753 MT due to higher shipping costs and flooding near harvest time. In MY 2021/22, the U.S. received 2.6% of total South Africa exports of grapefruit by volume. The EU is the top export market at about 38%, followed by China at 27%.
  • Imports were 5,020 MT in MY 2021/22 but are expected to fall back to a more typical volume of 1,000 to 2,000 MT in 2022/23 at 2,000 MT. Imports primarily come from Eswatini.


  • Acreage will begin to flatten, slowing from its exponential growth over the last seven years as demand slows due to inflationary pressures and input costs rise for farmers. Planted area is expected be 66,662 acres.
  • Production is forecast to increase by 6% to 680,000 MT from the previous year due to adequate rain and new plantings reaching full production.
  • Export volume is estimated to grow by 7.5% over the prior year and reach 560,000 MT, due to higher production and more reasonable shipping rates. In MY 2021/22 tangerine/mandarin exports had grown by 3% to 506,768 MT. In MY 2021/22, the U.S. received 10.3% of total South Africa exports of tangerines/mandarins by volume. The EU is the largest export market at about 28% followed by the U.K at 16.9%.
  • Imports are expected to stay at flat 3,000 MT.


  • Acreage will likely stay somewhat flat at 43,367 acres, after having more than doubled over the prior seven years. Newly planted trees have only replaced older orchards, and orchards suffered hail damage in November of 2022.
  • Production is estimated to decrease 13% to 653,000 MT from the previous year due to Eastern Cape hailstorm damage. This follows record production of 748,000 MT in 2021/22.
  • Export volume is forecast to grow by 2% over the prior year, reaching 570,000 MT. In MY 2021/22 lemon/lime exports had grown to 499,000 MT despite labor strikes and flooding. In MY 2021/22, the EU was the dominant export market at around 35%, followed by the United Arab Emirates at 12%, and the United Kingdom at 7.8%.
  • Imports are estimated to decline to approximately 2,000 MT. Most imports will come from Eswatini.

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