Beatriz Stein: Southern competition in citrus exports will grow
15 March 2019
Citrus production and citrus exports are expected to grow in South Africa, Chile and Peru over the next few years, with Argentina expanding lemon production and lemon exports.
Beatriz Stein provided an update on Australia’s competitors in the southern hemisphere at the 2019 Citrus Technical Forum. These competing countries have lower costs of production than Australia.
Beatriz is a recently retired Director of Argentina’s Citrus Sanitation Centre, which is responsible for the provision of certified citrus material for northwest Argentina.
She has also seen firsthand her country’s re-entry into several important export markets – evaluating the arrival of lemon from Tucuman to Japan earlier this century, and evaluating the quality of lemons in the USA when this market was reopened to northwest Argentina this year.
Much of the growth in these countries has occurred over the past decade, Beatriz said.
Chile increased exports of lemons, oranges and tangerines in this time, with 90% of exports sent to the USA. The USA was once a major importer of Australian citrus, but this market has been eroded due to low cost alternatives in the southern hemisphere.
South Africa has increased exports over the last decade, with 50% of their exports sent to Europe and the Middle East. It has increased the area planted to citrus in the last five years, particularly lemons, which will create further competition for Australia.
“Nobody knew what was going on in Peru the country,” Beatriz said.
“In eight years, they have increased fresh citrus exports 2.7 times, from 68,000 tonnes in 2010 to 186,555 tons in 2018. They are focusing on mandarins, but all citrus crops are growing.”
Although Argentina has been the world’s 8th largest producer of citrus for the past 10-15 years, Beatriz said exports have fallen overall in the last ten years, due to internal costs and disease, although lemon exports continue to rise.
Argentina will remain a significant competitor to Australia of lemon exports. It’s an important point to consider with the extra plantings of lemons in Australia.
Argentina now produces 24% of the world’s lemons. In the last decade, Argentina’s lemon plantings increased 23%, from 43,800ha to 53,900ha, producing 1.67 million tonnes.
Of the 35% of fresh lemons, 90% are exported; of the 65% of lemons that go to processing, 95% are exported, bought by Coca Cola and Pepsi, but the main use is lemon oil for perfume and other products.
Argentina also has pressure from its competitors because of diseases, including citrus canker and mediterranean fruit fly. This has required them to develop protocols with the US and EU, whereas its competitors in Chile and Peru do not.
They have signed a memorandum of understanding with India, while exports resumed to Vietnam and the USA last year.
They will remain a threat to Australian exports, but as Beatriz has shown, they are not the only one.