Report Highlights:

Growing conditions in the 2013/14 season were good for citrus production, fruit was of good size for marketing and external and internal quality was high. Exports of Australian oranges were 133,000 metric tonnes a ten year high in 2012/13. Orange imports (18,000 metric tonnes) account for 60 percent of citrus imports to Australia.

Production:

Fresh Orange Production

Growing conditions in the 2013/14 season were good for citrus production, fruit was of good size for marketing and external and internal quality was high. Production of navel oranges is estimated to be 230,000 metric tonnes, up from 205,000 metric tonnes in 2012/13. Domestic market results were mixed with high volumes and low demand causing prices to remain low. In some isolated cases fruit was picked to the ground or used as livestock feed as prices did not cover picking costs.

Although it is not a major orange production area, Queensland in Australia’s northeast is the largest mandarin producing state and was hit by a major flood in late January 2013 which caused severe damage to infrastructure and the loss of some orchards and trees.

Orange Juice Production

The 2013/14 Valencia harvest has commenced in unfamiliar territory with all regions reporting that the entire 2012/13 crop was harvested - the Riverina, Australia’s largest Valencia growing region has for many years carried over fruit as demand has been light. Early harvest reports for 2013/14 indicate that the demand is strong from juice processors and fresh produce resellers, despite low fruit size and yield, as is to be expected in the early season. Fruit will continue to grow rapidly through the warm summer months ahead. Volumes are expected to be average to below-average compared to recent seasons. Interest in the juice sector has risen among some growers, and there are reports of new plantings of juice orange varieties in the Riverina district.

Seasonal conditions

Rainfall was above-average for Western Australia and much of southeast of Australia, including the main citrus growing regions, however the rainfall was irregular with long dry periods during winter.

In general maximum temperatures were above-average across most of Australia as were minimum temperatures.

Some light frosts have had little effect on the fruit set for the 2014/15 crop. However, strong winds were a feature of the early part of fruit development which may have an effect on skin quality.

Trade:

Exports

The 2012/13 season produced good fruit quality and favorable fruit size. These circumstances led to strong exports despite the exchange rate, which drove prices up but put downward pressure on grower returns. Exports of Australian oranges were 133,000 metric tonnes, representing a ten-year high in 2012/13 despite the high exchange rate and poor grower returns.

In contrast, the 2013/14 season began with high demand for Australian fruit in export markets. Despite a fall in the value of the Australian dollar to below parity, this meant that for the majority of the season returns to growers were sustainable. The final trade figures for the 2013/14 season were not available at the time of this writing. However, it is anticipated that exports of Australian oranges in 2013/14 will exceed export totals in 2012/13.

Imports

Australia imported 30,000 metric tonnes of fresh citrus in 2012/13. This represents an increase of 20 percent for the category, driven primarily by larger lemon and mandarin imports. Fresh orange imports were 18,000 metric tonnes, accounting for 60 percent of total Australian citrus imports. Over 90 percent of fresh orange imports originate from the United States. Orange juice imports are expected to fall by 6 %, to 31,700 metric tonnes in 2013/14. The majority of Australia’s orange juice imports come from Brazil