Pest-free recognition for South Australian citrus a boost for exports to China

One of the world’s leading premium orange growing regions has been formally granted pest free status by the Chinese Government, raising hopes of continued growth of South Australian citrus exports to Asia.

South Australia is the only mainland Australian state that is free of fruit flies. Its Riverland region is renowned for producing some of the world’s highest quality table oranges.

The Chinese recognition follows on from Indonesian recognition of the Riverland as a Pest Free Area (PFA) in December 2016 and China’s recognition of the Riverland in May last year for the export of nectarines.

Other export markets recognizing the Riverland PFA include the United States, Thailand, Japan and New Zealand.

The Chinese Government had previously required all Australian oranges to undergo rigorous temperature and loading protocols, which added about AUD$200 (US$153) per metric ton (MT) to export costs.

The changes come at an opportune time when Australian citrus exports to China are increasing and are set to reach a record of 85,000MT in 2017.

Located along the Murray River about 250km (155mi) east of the South Australian capital Adelaide, the Riverland is the third largest citrus growing region in Australia, with a high proportion of Navel oranges.

Impi Citrus exports more than 1,000MT of navel oranges from its Riverland packing plant in Renmark to Asia each year with Japan as its largest international market.

Previously the company’s orders for China had to be sent to a specialist facility in Victoria to be chilled before being loaded into a container where the oranges needed to be kept at 3°C (37.4°F) for 21 days, adding about $5,000 (US$3,826) to the cost per 25MT container. The new certification will also cut shipping time to about 14 days.

Impi Citrus marketing manager Ben Cant said the pest free certification was a massive win for Riverland exporters and gave them a competitive price and timing edge over Australian producers in other regions.

“Potentially it means that the stock we land in China will be a week younger and it also means we are able to react to the market with a lot more flexibility because we’re not chilling fruit down,” Cant said.

“The Japanese and Chinese are very quality focused and they have continued to recognize the quality of Australian citrus so we think it’s going to increase our ability to ship to China

“We think it will make the market a bit more stable but we’re excited all round because Japan still has room for growth and China has room for significant growth.”

In 2016, Australia was the world’s eighth largest orange exporter behind Spain, the United States, South Africa, Egypt, the Netherlands (re-exports), Greece and Turkey. South Australia alone exported AUD$102 million (US$78 million) worth of citrus in 2015-16, up from AUD$71 million (US$54.3 million) in 2014-15.

“Australia is regarded as having the best citrus in the world because of its climate and the Riverland is regarded as the best region in Australia particularly for table oranges,” Cant said.

“The export demand is so strong that it has underpinned domestic pricing and our returns have been very good.

“Citrus is very buoyant financially at the moment – there’s a lot of investment going on to increase production to meet export demand.”

South Australian Agriculture, Food and Fisheries Minister Leon Bignell said the announcement that China had agreed to amend its import conditions for Riverland citrus was the result of several years of negotiations.

“This is outstanding news for the Riverland and will be instrumental in opening up further export opportunities for the region,” he said.

“It’s fantastic to see years of diplomatic negotiations come to fruition with all produce from the Riverland now recognized as pest free.

“This announcement will further reinforce our reputation in the international arena and I look forward to building an even stronger relationship between South Australia and China.”

The Riverland is also Australia’s largest wine grape producing region, accounting for about 25% of the nation’s annual production.


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 oranges come to 7-Eleven convenience stores in the Philippines

The Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade) and Citrus Australia, in partnership with Philippines Seven Corp. (7-Eleven Philippines), recently launched the “Australian Oranges: Now In Season” campaign to highlight the availability of quality, safe, sweet and healthy Australian oranges exclusively in select 7-Eleven stores in the Philippines.

“Australia is pleased to bring to Filipinos healthy snack options and we are happy that 7-Eleven Philippines came onboard this year to bring deliciously safe and healthy Australian oranges closer to Filipino consumers,” said Elodie Journet, Australian embassy senior trade and investment commissioner to the Philippines and Micronesia.

“The Australian citrus industry sees great opportunities in the Philippine market and we are looking forward to further expand the availability [of the produce] throughout the country. Partnering with 7-Eleven is one of the steps toward that goal,” Citrus Australia Citrus Market Access Manager David Daniels commented.



Publication date: 10/25/2017

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

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

Dracula blood oranges for USA Halloween

Australian exporter Pinnacle Fresh hopes to grow trade with branded offering over Halloween period

Australian-grown blood oranges will take pride of place on US retail shelves this Halloween, thanks to a new themed marketing campaign from Pinnacle Fresh.

The Melbourne-based exporter hopes to educate consumers about the key health benefits and nutritional value of the fruit through its new trademarked Dracula brand.

Pinnacle Fresh account manager Daniel Newport said the specially designed Dracula cartons are perfect for building eye-catching displays.

The offering will be made available to US retailers from the second week of September, aligning perfectly with Halloween celebrations.

Pinnacle Fresh hope children and their parents will be drawn to the Dracula brand, as it provides an alternative to the candy typically associated with Halloween.

“Since revealing the content to select buyers in the US, demand has been extremely encouraging,” Pinnacle Fresh explained in a release. “Major retailers are always looking for the next event to help capture market share, so it comes as no surprise that the Dracula brand has already sparked heavy interest.”

Newport said high-antioxidant fruits have hugely increased in popularity over the past two decades, meaning the time is right for blood oranges to take the spotlight.

Recent health research has shown blood oranges have nine times the antioxidant volume of navel oranges, and have the capacity to boost metabolism, improve the immune system, stimulate collagen and act as a natural anti-inflammatory.

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


Redbelly dips toe in South Korea

Consumer education key to developing foothold for blood oranges in Asia
edbelly Citrus hopes to blaze a trail for blood oranges in the South Korean market.

The Australian grower-packer-exporter sent its first consignment to the Asian nation last season, after winning market access earlier in the year.

For the majority of consumers who took the opportunity to sample Redbelly’s fruit, it was their first experience with blood oranges.

The exercise left the company under no illusions as to the effort required to develop the market.

“Feedback from our South Korean customers was obtained during in-store demonstrations and for many consumers the fruit provided a challenging experience,” said Len Mancini, director of Redbelly Citrus.

“South Koreans that had purchased grapefruit previously were most likely to have a positive experience. Those that were more familiar with Valencia and Navel varieties were somewhat challenged by the tartness of the fruit and the red blush on the skin, which apparently made the fruit look old to them.”

Consumer education undoubtedly holds the key to developing a presence for the fruit in South Korea, with Redbelly working to highlight its versatility.

“We probably need to show consumers that the variety is used overseas in ways other that just as an eating fruit or even a juicing fruit,” Mancini explained. “The promotion of recipes in which blood oranges are cooked or turned into sweet desserts will aid in that education.”

A full version of this article appears in the June edition of Asiafruit.

Souce: Author: Matthew Jones

Image: Blood orange Pixabay_LauraLisLT



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


Egyptian orange sector profiting from low Egyptian Pound

The Egyptian citrus sector has grown in recent years. Thanks to the decrease in value of the Egyptian Pound, exports saw the price of this citrus become more attractive in the world market. In addition, the acreage has increased and there are more orchards. This has resulted in an increase in the available volumes. Finally, Egypt has profited greatly from the two Russian boycotts in 2014 and 2016. This is according to a USDA report.

Egypt ranks in sixth place as the world largest orange producer. Of the Egyptian production, 46% is sold domestically, 51% is destined for export and the remaining three percent is processed. Brazil, the forerunner in world production, supplies 72% to the industry.

Growing demand is stimulating expansion
FAS Cairo estimates that the planted acreage grew by five percent to 154 200 hectares in 2017/2018. A year earlier, this was 146 950 hectares. Of the 154 200 hectares of oranges, 142 100 hectares is harvested. This is an increase of four percent compared to the previous year when it was 136 475 hectares. This has resulted in increased production. Next year will see an estimated production of 3,18 million tonnes. This is an increase of six percent as compared to production a year earlier. This increase is thanks to this year's favourable weather conditions. These stable weather conditions are expected to continue into next year. An added positive factor is the increasing demand for oranges in Egypt, as well as abroad. This is bolstering production.

This growing demand for oranges stimulates growers to expand their acreage. This is clearly evident in the acreage figures. In 2006/2007 there were 104 383 hectares of oranges in Egypt. For 2016/2017, this number stands at 146 950 hectares. This is an increase of 42 567 hectares, which is 41%. Taking these same factors into account, it can be said that citrus farmers prefer growing oranges. Thanks to a well-developed supply chain in the country, smaller growers can sell their product via exporters or larger growers. In this manner, the smaller farmers also benefit from the growing global demand.

Mediterranean fruit fly
The majority of growers are located in the Qalyoubia, Beheira, Sharqiya, Ismailia and Menufia regions. Cultivation, of course, takes place on the banks of the Nile. Citrus farming is dependent on irrigation. The Nile, it's fertile banks and the large amount of sunlight are a good combination for citrus cultivation. In addition, growers benefit from low labour costs and a relative proximity to the largest export markets.

The biggest threat to cultivation is the Mediterranean fruit fly. This negatively impacts not only production but exports as well. Although there are increased exports, there have been reports from various countries, such as Russia and the Ukraine, regarding fruit fly infections. The Egyptian government is working on improving the quality of its fruit and vegetables. A new food safety system has, therefore, been established. The size and quality of export oranges have to be registered here.

Increased demand for oranges
For every ten oranges harvest, six are Navels. Other varieties that are cultivated are the Baladi, Khalily and Sukkari. These are mostly destined for the domestic market. A well-known export variety is the Valencia. Harvest time is usually four to five months. In total, there is an almost year-round supply of Egyptian oranges. The only exception is the hot summer months of August and September. The export season begins in mid-November and, thanks to cold storage, it runs through to the end of August.

The international, as well as domestic, demand for Egyptian oranges has risen sharply. Local prices are more profitable than prices for other types of fruit grown in this North African country. It is estimated that local consumption will rise by seven percent in 2017/2018, reaching 1,48 million tonnes. The domestic demand is especially high during the winter months.

Weakening Egyptian Pound
The efforts of the sector and the government to open up new markets, combined with the devaluation of the Egyptian Pound, has resulted in increased demand in the world market. This year countries like Australia and Vietnam were added to the list of export markets. These countries have opened their borders to Egyptian citrus.

In November, the Egyptian government released its fixed exchange rate and left it to the market to determine it's currency's value. Initially, the currency's value fell in relation to the US Dollar, but this decline has since slowed. As a result of the Egyptian Pounds decrease in value, inflation rose and citrus became more expensive. The weakened exchange rate was, however, good for the export market. In the 2017/2018 market year, exports will increase by five percent, reaching 1,6 million tonnes. A year earlier, this was still 1,52 million tonnes. Orange farmers are benefiting from the lower exchange rate. It gives Egyptian citrus more of a competitive edge over Spanish and Moroccan citrus.

Growing export market
The largest export markets in 2016/2017 were Russia Saudi Arabia, the Netherlands, China, the UAE, Bangladesh, the UK, Kuwait, Iraq and the Ukraine. Russia and Saudi Arabia, together, accounted for 43% of the orange exports. No major changes are expected in these export markets. Large growth figures are noted with some of these export markets. Exports to China increased by 204% to 99 930 tonnes. Hong Kong received 123% more Egyptian oranges, reaching a total volume of 44 228 tonnes. Other markets that import a considerable amount more of Egyptian oranges are Iraq(30 252 tonnes, +1 314%), Turkey (26 026 tonnes, +932%) and Italy (19 205 tonnes, +222%).

Egypt is also benefiting from the two Russian boycotts announced in recent years. The 2014 blockade of European product, as well as the 2016 ban on Turkish fruit and vegetables, have had a positive influence on this Egyptian sector. It has filled the gap left by Greece, Italy and Turkey. With 217 988 tonnes, Egypt is Russia's largest citrus supplier. In 2013, the US opened its border to Egyptian citrus, but training exporters in the required cold treatment procedures has not yet started.

Click here to read the full USDA report.

Publication date: 12/11/2017
Author: Melinda Walraven