EU citrus production drop to fuel imports - report
Citrus production in the European Union is projected to be 11% lower year-on-year in the 2019-20 season at 10.4m metric tons (MT), according to a USDA report.
This production forecast is 4% higher than previous estimates.
The USDA Gain report said that unfavorable weather conditions in Spain - the EU’s leading citrus producer, along with Italy - accounts for the projected drop in overall production. However, the quality of the fruit is forecast to be excellent.
EU citrus consumption may rise compared to previous estimations in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. During the government-mandated lockdown in the EU, consumption of citrus fruit grew popular as consumers looked for food products to strengthen the immune system, the report said.
This growth in citrus consumption combined with lower EU citrus supplies pushed Spanish citrus prices upward during the first 16 weeks of 2020.
For 2019-20, EU orange production is forecast at 6.1 MMT, almost 9% lower but 6% higher than previous estimations.
In addition, in MY 2019/20, EU-28 tangerine production is forecast to lower 14% to 2.7 MMT supported by the expected 23.8 percent drop in Spain. Over the last nine years, the EU’s total orange planted has shrunk almost 13% and tangerines 8%, while citrus farms are increasing productivity and performance.
Similarly, 2019-20 EU lemon production is forecast to decrease 16% to 1.4 MMT.
EU grapefruit production is also forecast to decline 11 percent to 96,000 MT, due to the expected strong decline in Spain, EU’s major lemon and grapefruit producer.
Total EU lemon and grapefruit area planted continues to expand, growing 8% since 2011.
For 2019-20, as a result of the decline in EU citrus production, imports are expected to grow, mainly from Morocco and South Africa.
Meanwhile, U.S. tariffs related to the World Trade Organization (WTO) case against EU aircraft subsidies may impact EU citrus exports, primarily Spanish clementines and lemons.