Citrus growers from Southern Africa will export a record crop of close to 137 million boxes of citrus fruit to more than 100 countries this year.
The Citrus Growers Association says the rise in exports should translate into job opportunities, more foreign exchange revenue and a growing economy.
A provisional export estimate was presented to the Citrus Marketing Forum this week – a body representing citrus growers and exporters.
The CEO of the Association Justin Chadwick says the citrus industry has enjoyed two record crops for the export market in succession. Last year’s crop yielded a revenue of nearly R19 billion.
The main drivers of growth are in the soft citrus and lemon categories. However, the net growth in these categories is somewhat muted due to a 3% decline in Valencia oranges.
Valencia oranges make up the biggest portion of the citrus export market at 39%, followed by navel oranges (20%), lemons (16%), soft citrus (13%) and grapefruit (12%).
Chadwick ascribed the increase to the resilience of the citrus industry and its ability to adapt to technological changes and overcome challenges.
“Our local citrus industry is one of the country’s most important fruit groups by value and volume. It yields a revenue of over R20 billion per year of which 92% comes from exports, and provides jobs to more than 100 000 people.”