Records tumble for Australian citrus

New benchmark set in September, with three months of export figures still to be counted

Australian citrus suppliers don’t have to wait for the final figures to declare 2017 their best season on record.

More than 221,000 tonnes of fruit had been exported at the end of September, generating some A$377m in sales.

Given that citrus exports for the entire 2016 season were 220,000 tonnes at A$328.4m, it has already been another record breaking campaign in the export arena, and it’s not done yet.

“With three months still unaccounted for, and with predictions of substantial exports of Valencia oranges in the last quarter of the year, we expect to well and truly break the A$400m mark this season, edging us closer to our goal of half a billion dollars,” says Citrus Australia’s market access manager David Daniels.

Based on the September data, orange exports were up 12 per cent year-on-year at 152,153 tonnes, while mandarin exports were up 38 per cent to 64,755 tonnes.

Other citrus categories (grapefruit, lemons and limes) made up just under two per cent of total exports at 3,846 tonnes.

Source: Author: Matthew Jones

Biggest citrus packing shed in WA opens to encourage export markets

A group of West Australian orange and mandarin growers has built the state's largest citrus packing facility in order to expand into export markets.

Located in Bindoon, 80 kilometres from Perth, Moora Citrus Packers has the capacity to process 20,000 tonne of produce per year.

The $7 million project is a brave move by joint venture partners Moora Citrus and the Kay, Gillion, Yildiz, Brennan, and Middleton families.

Moora Citrus oranges in a mega citrus pack shed in Bindoon
PHOTO: Executive director of Moora Citrus is confident their investment will pay off. (ABC Rural: Lucinda Jose)
More than 97 per cent of the cost has been privately funded and executive director Sue Middleton is confident the investment will pay off.

"Anything where you are putting this much money and significant skin in the game it is always a risk," she said.
"But if you look at the volumes we've got to pack, even just in this coming year, it is a risk that is manageable."

Ms Middleton said with more than 10 years of planning, the shed was needed to continue to grow the citrus business and Western Australian citrus production.

"For us, this is a culmination of a dream building the Moora Citrus orchard many years ago now," she said.

"That is just coming into the point where it is about at half production now so we need the extra capacity."

Moora Citrus oranges in a mega citrus pack shed in Bindoon
Because the project is a joint venture, Richard Eckersley, chair of Citrus WA, said the collaboration would enable smaller producers to get into the export game.

"What this facility does is give access to those growers who can't export from their existing sheds," he said.
"Or [for those who] don't have sheds, the ability to go through a third party like Moora Citrus and be able to ship their fruit overseas."

The packing shed has been designed specifically for citrus but in the future, it is hoped the equipment will be able to handle other fruit products, including mangoes.

"There is always potential and it doesn't take much modification to be able to handle other fruit if there is a need for it," Shane Kay said.

"We will be certainly be looking at that as we go forward and [will] see if there is opportunity or [if] people need a hand to do mangoes or stonefruit or whatever."

In full production, Moora Citrus and Moora Citrus Packers is expecting a joint turnover of $24 million, creating 50 to 60 jobs.

Source: WA Country Hour By Lucinda Jose 


Australian citrus exports climb

Volume and value up over first eight months of the year, with mandarins showing strong growth

An insatiable demand from China has propelled Australian citrus exports to record heights so far this year.

Figures released by industry body Citrus Australia show overall export sales generated A$277.6m until the end of August, a 23 per cent increase compared to the same point of 2016. Export volumes were up 11 per cent year-on-year, at 161,111 tonnes.

Australian mandarins are proving increasingly popular with consumers in offshore markets, with 48,077 tonnes exported as of 31 August. This marks a 23 per cent increase on last year, the highest growth percentage of any citrus category.

On a month-by-month basis, the August exports for mandarins were 20 per cent higher than for the same month in 2016. “At 22,498 tonnes the volume was a record for mandarin exports for any single month,” Citrus Australia said in a statement on their website.

Oranges continue to be Australia’s largest citrus export category by volume, with 110,528 tonnes shipped over the first eight months of 2017 (up 8 per cent on 2016), while ‘other’ citrus came in at 2,507 tonnes (down 37 per cent).

China is now the Australian industry’s biggest export market, with a total of 46,512 tonnes shipped to the People’s Republic so far this year, a figure that already surpasses last year’s total of 39,591 tonnes. Japan (28,214 tonnes), Hong Kong (13,338 tonnes), the US (8,520 tonnes) and Malaysia (7,299 tonnes) rounded out the top five.

Source: Author: Matthew Jones

Chinese mandarin juice company to grow in Australia

Mandarin juice might not seem like a blue chip investment stock, but former NSW Deputy Premier, Andrew Stoner, says it is a big deal in China, and getting bigger.

In fact, China’s Bojun Agricultural Holdings is so confident about the growth prospects of its beverage business it wants to plant the special Nanfeng mandarin variety in Australia.

Bojun, is also preparing to float its business on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) in November.

It is following the lead of several Chinese-based agricultural companies which have listed on the local market in the past few years to raise cash from local investors and link with Australian farm sector expertise.

Source:  via 

Publication date: 9/20/2017

Booming Australian citrus industry short of fruit due to global demand

Citrus growers around Australia are experiencing a boom, with demand and prices predicted to beat records for the third year running.

As the industry hits peak harvest and the middle of its export season, industry professionals are discovering there is not enough fruit to meet the global demand.

Sales manager for Mildura Fruit Company, Australia's largest citrus packer and exporter, Marcus Scott, said it was struggling to keep up.

"It's really fantastic, the citrus industry is in a good spot at the moment," Mr Scott said.

"We literally haven't got enough pieces of fruit to supply our existing customers without taking on any new ventures."
He said China, Japan and, to a lesser degree, North Asia are Australia's bread and butter and it was hard to ignore the price they were willing to pay.

"We're attracting a greater return than last season for a product that is as good or if not similar to last year. How high is too high?

The general demand for Australia citrus is at an all time high at the moment."
Mr Scott said although the size of some fruit was down and would not meet the premium markets, other countries were still prepared to pay.

"Markets like India and Bangladesh that we haven't supplied in the last two or three years because we've had large fruit are coming back into the fray and paying good money."

"Tonne wise, I think we could probably have twice as much and we'd still be short of supply."

A bright future for citrus

Part of the increased global demand is because a bacterial disease had affected crops in South America.

On top of that, the combination of reduced tariffs and a strong Asian economy have added to the surge in Australian exports.

South Australian citrus grower Peter Hill is based in the Riverland, and exports more than 60 per cent of the fruit from his Loxton property overseas.

He said this year's yield, fruit quality, and price were looking great.

"I think prices are probably up by around about 20 per cent, 20–25 per cent, the last few years have been reasonable but this year's export demand has strengthened prices."
"Our conditions in the Riverland are very favourable for growing citrus, the Riverland is probably regarded as one of the best places in the world to grow citrus."

Mr Hill said he, like many citrus growers, has had his fair share of challenges but he was confident this strong phase was here to stay.

"Hopefully they stay strong; at this stage they're looking good, but it wasn't that many years ago that being a citrus grower was extremely tough."

Australian growers' renewed confidence

Health benefits are also driving demand with new research out of Japan showing citrus fruit can reduce the risk of developing dementia or Alzheimers by almost one quarter.

Citrus Australia chief executive Judith Damiani said the industry had experienced this buoyant phase over the past couple of years, but this year was unprecedented. "We hope to see perhaps another record broken this year," she said.

"We can't supply enough at the moment, so that is really driving a lot of confidence back into the industry." Ms Damiani said she had never seen it like this in her 23 years in the industry, and it was not only exported fruit that was tasting sweet rewards.

A shortage of the juicing variety, valencia, which was once unprofitable, is now putting cash back into growers pockets.

Ms Damiani said many growers up-rooted their valencia trees due to a historical decline, and the few who kept their trees were now reaping the rewards. "Supply will become more of an issue for Australian juice production, fresh juice production," she said.

"It's great to see the industry in such a buoyant phase and in an expansion phase as well, considering we've had a tough decade."

Source: ABC Riverland By Brittany Evins

"There is a huge demand for the Empress mandarins in China"

The demand for Australian produce is incredible and according to Jordan Bain from Pinnacle Fresh, citrus volumes sent from Australia this year are probably going to be up on last year's.

"There is a huge demand for the Empress mandarin in China, it is one of the first mandarins to hit the market and volumes are still limited," explains Jordan. The variety will be marketed by Pinnacle Fresh, Jordan said the farm is still recovering from flood damage from a few years ago and it will be 2-4 years before they are in full production. There has also been significant work and investment on the cleaning of the budwood to ensure the variety is given the very best attention it deserves.

Empress mandarins are a deep orange colour, very nice smooth skin and although not easy peelers, they are easier to peel than other mandarins. They are also know for there exceptional eating quality.

Pinnacle Fresh supplies mainly the wholesale markets in China, sending to Shanghai and Gaungzhou. "We don't have enough volume to supply the other markets, but from these two the mandarins find their way further into China and to the 2nd tier cities. The Chinese market has really changed in the last 5 years, before that imported products really only reached the coastal fringes. In the last few years demand has increased greatly and Australian citrus has gone through a really good time. There is a big demand for all types of citrus in China."

Pinnacle Fresh has been supplying the Chinese market for 5 years, and are reasonably established with receivers there. "We are not a huge player in China and don't want to be. We want to be a leader in in terms of new varietals in the market, they must eat well and be sweet to win over the Chinese consumer," explains Jordan. "It only takes 4-5 containers of bad oranges to kill the market and it can take weeks to repair the damage. We have seen that this season with grape exports."

Jordan said they are working with growers to develop new varieties for the Chinese market. "In the US there is a lot of focus on varieties which are disease resistant due the problems with citrus greening, but we are lucky that here in Australia we can concentrate on other new varieties with other properties."

Pinnacle supply the US market as well as China, around a 50/50 split and in order to supply customers year round they import and export a lot of produce and have offices in Melbourne and California. The company trades many different products but the main ones are citrus, grapes and cherries.

Whereas in China the wholesale markets are the trading ground, in the US it is the retailers, "In the US you can control the supply chain, in China it is a bit different."

For more information:
Jordan Bain
Pinnacle Fresh
Tel: +61 3 9369 0492
Cell: +61 438 650 833

Publication date: 7/12/2017
Author: Nichola Watson

Image: Pixabay_Alexas_photas

Thailand is enamoured with Aussie mandarins

Demand for Australian fruit, especially mandarins, continues to increase in Thailand, on the back of targeted trade promotional campaigns like the annual ‘Australia Now! In Season’ initiative.

‘Australia Now! In Season’ is a multi-industry, multi-country integrated promotional program focused on South East Asia. It is designed to raise awareness of the advantages of quality, safe and healthy Australian horticulture products.

The program promotes Australia’s fresh fruit as it comes into season, commencing with summer fruits including grapes, then pears, apples, navels and mandarins as the season progresses.

Stuart Rees, Austrade’s Trade Commissioner for Bangkok, said imported fresh fruit, including mandarins, is enjoying rapid market growth due to increasing demand from Thailand’s retail, food service and food manufacturing sectors.

‘This is because Thailand is the region’s food manufacturing hub, catering to both domestic and international markets. It is also underpinned by changing consumer patterns and the increasing income levels of Thai consumers,’ said Rees.

‘Thai consumers also have a greater awareness of food safety issues. Australia is seen as a “clean, green and safe” supplier, offering better quality and tasting produce when compared to imported products from other countries.

‘While the Thai market is particularly receptive to Australian table grapes, summer fruit, apples and pears, mandarins, particularly the Australian Honey Murcott variety, is becoming the popular choice,’ noted Rees.

‘Australian Honey Murcott mandarins are highly regarded because of their vibrant colour, long shelf life and high sugar content with a well-balanced acidity,’ he added.

While China remains Australia’s largest market by value for mandarins in 2016, Thailand was Australia’s largest export market by trade volume. More than 7,770 tonnes of mandarins were exported, an increase of nearly 25 per cent in 2016 according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Local retailers are reporting very strong sales of Australian mandarins and are predicting growth of 40 per cent during the ‘Australia Now! In Season’ campaign, as it often coincides with key Chinese Lunar events celebrated in Thailand like The Hungry Ghost, Full Moon and Vegetarian Festivals.

During the Hungry Ghost Festival, Thai-Chinese descendants purchase mandarins – because of their golden exterior – as offerings during prayers for spirits and ancestors. While during the 10-day Vegetarian Festival, Thai-Chinese abstain from eating meat and instead purchase fresh produce, particularly mandarins, in greater volumes.

Another initiative which has helped propel interest in Australian produce was the Austrade-AusVeg Thai buyers visit to Australia from 10-17 May.

Thai buyers visited various fruit growing regions – namely Western Australia’s Perth Hills, South Australia’s Riverland, Queensland’s Emerald and Bundaberg and Victoria’s Murray and Sunraysia districts – to obtain a greater awareness of Australia’s capabilities and offerings.

Rees said these activities have collectively resulted in more leading retailers across Thailand actively seeking Australian produce to sell in their stores.

The Thailand-Australia Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA) has also provided Australian exporters with a competitive advantage over other countries, as it eliminated import duties for many fresh produce items in 2015.

For more information contact Austrade or visit the website to learn more about the opportunities in the fruit and vegetable sector and doing business in Thailand.

Source: Austrade

image: Pixabay_pixel2013


AU citrus growers expand into Southeast Asia

A couple of citrus growers in Mundubbera are taking the term export market to a new level and funding an overseas project growing and building similar farms to their own in Southeast Asia.

Allen and Susan Jenkin established Ironbark Citrus in 1990 now spanning 170 hectares and featuring 94,000 mandarin trees with all fruit exported into Asia.

Like many horticulture farms the couple utilise seasonal workers but once work on their farm has finished they move on and the couple wanted to use the knowledge and experience they had gained establishing their business in Australia to help others.

Their vision was to build a citrus nursery overseas and plant trees with local farmers which would see fruit packed and exported as trees came into production. While Laos farmers have access to land and water, and are experienced subsistence farmers, they often do not have the capital or access to knowledge and markets to establish commercial crops like citrus.

Mr and Mrs Jenkin established a loan fund, providing loans to establish and maintain their orchards until they begin to produce incomes. Repayments will begin when the trees start to crop, and should be paid back after three years. Ultimately, the couple wants to enrich others lives and lend a hand helping Laos enter the industry.

“The day we can go to Laos and just wander in and admire the orchards, with the business totally run by Laos people and we don’t have to do anything, that’s the goal.

“The whole idea is to help Lao people improve their own lives, it’s all for Laos people.”

source: via

Publication date: 6/27/2017

Image: Pixabay_hans

Citrus industry surprised by growth in unfamiliar new markets of Philippines, Canada


The peak body for Australia's citrus industry says it has been taken by surprise by the success of two formerly "non-existent" markets that have leapt to become among its top export destinations.

Canada and the Philippines are now in the top 12 export destinations for Australian citrus, each consuming nearly 6,000 tonnes of fruit a year.

Market access manager with Citrus Australia, David Daniels, said the growth is exciting, particularly as the Philippines economy continues to grow.

"A few years ago those markets were almost non-existent," he said.

"I can't say why that is, but certainly in the Philippines we've put a lot of effort in marketing and working in partnership with the Victorian Government and AusTrade to do point-of-sale material and work with their supermarkets.

"We never really thought it would happen this quickly or we would see such substantial volumes.

"In my first trip to the Philippines I didn't think we'd do much more than a handful of containers per year. Six thousand tonnes is quite a surprise."

Business news publisher Forbes placed the Philippines is the second-fastest growing economy in east Asia, second only to Lao and ahead of China, in its March analysis.

Mr Daniels said now that Australia has a strong foothold in many markets the challenge is for growers to produce fruit tailored for foreign consumers.

"It really is about growing to market requirements and knowing what the end consumer wants," he said.

"What size fruit, what grade, how sweet they want it. And there are certain cultural practices.

"The good growers are doing that already, they are growing their crops specifically for a market and have been doing that for the last 20 years."

Source: ABC Vic Country Hour. Author: Emma Brown

Image: Orange Pixabay_Hans


Aussie oranges face potential supply problems as consumers, growers eye mandarins


Strong international demand and the popularity of mandarins could see Australian oranges being in short supply in coming years.

According to the country's peak citrus body, Australia's citrus industry will be faced with insufficient stocks of the popular fruit in future years if current plantings of oranges do not increase.

Citrus Australia marketing and quality information manager Nathan Hancock said a shortage of oranges would be detrimental to satisfying demand from consumers.

"At our current planting rate, we are going to have an issue where we do not have enough oranges to meet demand," he said.

"Just based now purely theoretically with the model we are using, we can see that if we were not to plant any more oranges in the next few years, we will be starting to affect our ability to supply our current markets, and at the moment we are trying to grow our markets.

"There is real opportunity for clever planting of certain varieties."

With Australia's citrus industry enjoying a positive turnaround after tough years of growing, easy peel mandarins have developed a growing popularity with consumers.

Riverland grower Philip Kroehn said 2017 would see him reap his first pickings of mandarins, after expanding his crop based on consumer demand.

"I think that is probably the growing market for the consumer is a seedless, easy peel piece of fruit that is easy to eat," Mr Kroehn said.

"Looking forward that is where the demand is growing ... so I try and grow what people are going to want to buy."

Valencia revival after strong season for growers

Asia's demand for Australian oranges remains strong, with 2016 seeing just under 40,000 tonnes of Aussie citrus exported into China at a value of more than $70 million.

While the Navel remains the predominant orange to export, a strong year for growers could see a revival in the struggling Valencia variety.

Production for the juicing variety has been on a downhill slide for Australian growers in recent years, with poor prices leading to many throwing in the towel in favour of Navels.

Navel oranges remain a popular eating variety, while the Valencias are more a focus for juicing.

Mr Hancock said this season had brought strong demand for the maligned variety, with orange concentrate prices high around the world.

"There has been absolutely no market signal for a grower out there to encourage them to be a Valencia grower up until this period," Mr Hancock said.

"It could be to the point now that we are seeing impact on the cost of concentrate, which means it is more expensive to bring that to Australia than it has ever been before.

"It could just be a one-in-50 year increase in the market this year, but it is something to keep an eye out … it could be the long-term trend that the Valencias could see a resurgence."

In for the long haul

It is this potential resurgence Mr Kroehn is hoping will make up for years of dwindling prices.

Having carried on through the tough times when many Valencia trees were ripped out of the ground, he said there was now great potential to reap financial benefits.

"I have been in the citrus industry for 20-odd years now, and it is the best season we have ever had," Mr Kroehn said.

"Returns this year have been stellar, so it is a case of trying to make back a lot of money we lost years ago when it was bad and we were losing money growing Valencias.

"Certainly in the short term, there is money in them."


Tom Nancarrow

Image: Pixabay - Hans

Mandarin growers switching their focus to more export-based production

A Queensland citrus company that produces five varieties of mandarins is looking to expand its exports into Asia to boost its returns, and decrease the reliance on Australian domestic markets.

Shepherd Citrus in Gayndah wants to change the production proportion to between 60-70 per cent towards export into Asian markets, as it believes the local supply window for Queensland Imperial Mandarins is being squeezed by Southern producers. Owner Ian Shepherd says this is putting pressure on growers to pick crops early and in a smaller supply window to receive economical returns.

"The export markets, both current and potential offer producers of high quality citrus alternatives to the tight domestic markets," he said. "There is also a growing trend toward low-seeded or seedless varieties, and they can be a challenge to grow to the required size and quality. Growers locally are transitioning away from the seeded varieties currently exported into new seedless export varieties as the demand for these grow in Asian markets with the Japanese market to be a primarily seedless market entirely. New seedless varieties offer a return to this market in the future."

After a very hot dry period and then a significant amount of rain this year's citrus harvest season in the area is around three to four weeks ahead of where it would normally be, but the company says the fruit is ripening very quickly and seems to be of a good quality and size. The weather has created a good growing season, but yields for this year seem to be average to just below average with a marked variability throughout different block.

"We expect the Imperial season to go until late May early June," Mr Shepherd said. "Later season export fruit continues to grow very well and quality, at this point, looks to be very high. Low-seeded Murcotts look also to be early, as do the later Honey-Murcott and it looks like being an early season all round. External skin quality seems to be very good, but this is difficult to gauge until all fruit is full colour"

While the early season Goldup Mandarins were among the first on the market this year, Mr Shepherd says the company has does not produce much of the variety.

"Goldup Mandarins are just an early Imperial variety and the supply window is tied to weather so often are in production at the same time as other Imperials," he said. "We have very few Goldups in production, preferring to concentrate on the more traditional Imperial variants for the local markets. We anticipate continuing to decrease the plantings of all Imperials as the blocks age to decrease our Imperial production to around 30 per cent to ensure that the domestic market supply remains in balance."

While it does grow other types of citrus, Shepherd Citrus mainly grows mandarins, with 60 per cent of production is growing and supplying Imperial Mandarins into Australian markets and then low-seeded Murcott and Honey-Murcott into mostly export Markets. The company supplies all domestic markets in Australia through Central Market Agents and its export markets are throughout Asia, the Middle East and Canada, depending on supply and prevailing market conditions.

"We also have significant new plantings of the entirely Seedless Tango Mandarin and expect production of these to build up over the next several years," Mr Shepherd said. "They have been planted to meet the significant and growing demand for high-quality, seedless Mandarins into the Asian markets."

For more information:
Ian and Judy Shepherd
Shepherd Citrus
Phone: +61 7 4161 1967

Publication date: 4/11/2018
Author: Matthew Russell

Australian Costa Group: +26% profit

The long, cold spring in Morocco and the disappointing soft fruit harvest in Tasmania and Atherton Tableland weren't enough to depress the results of the Costa Group. The Australian multinational noted a net profit which was 26.3% higher than last year.

The turnover over the financial year rose by 10.2% and reached 1 billion Australian dollars. The remaining profit was 76.7 million Australian dollars. The company is active in various segments and has cultivation locations in Australia, Morocco and China.

Morocco had a long and cold spring this year, which meant the season started eight weeks late. The harvest concentrated towards the end of the season. As a result of this, the contribution of African Blue, part of the Costa Group, was below expectations.

The soft fruit harvest in both Tasmania and Atherton Tableland was disappointing, which limited the advantages of the off season prices. Within the soft fruit category the company is expanding with cultivations in Morocco, China and Australia. The citrus on the other hand presented well, with an excellent start to 2018. Of the 300 hectares in Riverland, 201 hectares were planted in June, of which 157 hectares citrus and 44 hectares avocado.

Tomatoes and mushrooms performed well with results above expectations.
There was an investment in Monarta farm, a cultivation company of mushrooms, among others. This expansion is on schedule. An investment in 10 hectares of greenhouses for snacking tomatoes has been announced for tomatoes. The greenhouse is to come into production from May 2020. Besides this there was investment in the nursery capacity and the packaging facilities within the group.

Costa Group is investing in the avocado cultivation as a fifth pillar of the company. In the last 18 months 6 companies were taken over, including Koci Farm (FNQ).


Publication date: 8/29/2018