SH exporters could benefit from Russian citrus rise -

SH exporters could benefit from Russian citrus rise

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SH exporters could benefit from Russian citrus rise

A United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) report has forecast continued citrus demand growth in Russia, which is the world's largest importer of the fruit category.

The USDA Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) report said Russia's citrus imports were up 29% year-on-year between January and April, with Turkey, Egypt and Morocco as the major suppliers.

In 2010 Russia's citrus market was valued at US$1.2 billion with a per capita consumption of 7.3kg (16.1lbs). Mandarins make up 45% of consumption, followed by oranges (33%), lemons and limes (13%), and grapefruit (8%).

The report said the market was 'far from saturated' and had 'good potential for further expansion', driven by healthier lifestyle changes, an uptick in spending due to more disposable income, and the fact Russians buy more fresh produce in retail stores.

"Russia remains first and foremost a price market and consumer behavior is still showing some effects of the economic crisis. Today's buyer makes more rational and thoughtful purchases, pays less attention to brands, and searches for products that offer a balance between price and quality," the report said.

However, major Southern Hemisphere citrus suppliers South Africa and Argentina faced difficulties in the Russian market in July. Last season, Argentina shipped 45,010 metric tons (MT) of mandarins to the market while South Africa exported 13,406MT, according to the report.

Russian importers told the USDA that U.S. oranges lacked the appearance of other oranges, and were also more expensive than South African and Middle Eastern fruit.

South Africa shipped 129,176MT of oranges to Russia last season which placed it just behind leader Egypt, while other significant Southern Hemisphere orange exporters included Argentina (27,892MT) and Uruguay (6,352MT).

South Africa is also the largest Southern Hemisphere grapefruit exporter to Russia and shipped 18,814MT last season. Argentina's grapefruit supply to Russia is still relatively low at 1,025MT, but it is the second-largest source of lemons for Russian consumers with 43,117MT in 2010.

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