USDA FAS: Japan has the yen for greater citrus imports

12/21/2010 10:06:13 AM
Tom Karst

This 26 page report from USDA FAS represents the latest and best intelligence on the Japanese citrus market. Here are some excerpts on the trade for clementines/tangerines and grapefruit....

From the report:

Post estimates Japanese production of fresh tangerines/mandarins in MY2010/11 to be 968,000 metric tons, an 11 percent decrease compared to last season. This estimate includes the ?unshu mikan tangerines and late variety tangerines of ?iyokan and ?hassaku. The ?unshu mikan tangerines are by far the largest Japanese tangerine crop. As part of the tree’s natural production cycle, output alternates between high and low every season. Correspondingly, this season Japanese tangerines trees are experiencing what is typically referred to as an ?off-year and are likely to yield a lower crop than the last year. Hence, for MY2010/11 post estimates the ?unshu mikan tangerine production to be 900,000 metric tons, about a 10 percent decrease from the previous season.

Consumption: Tangerines are one of Japan’s favorite fresh fruit, representing approximately 16 percent of fresh fruit consumption. Since 2001, Japanese annual household consumption of fresh fruit has been annually declining. According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC), in 2009 the annual consumption of fresh tangerines was 13.8 kilogram per household, compared to 15 kilograms in 2008, with total expenditures of $57.40 (4,726 yen)*. This is the average consumption per (two-or-more people) household. In Japan, younger people tend to eat significantly fewer tangerines than older people. Younger generations prefer the ease of eating fruit that does not require peeling. Young Japanese mothers, for example, are introducing their children to more ready- to-eat fruits. In fact, Japanese citrus traders fear that upcoming generations may grow up unaccustomed to peeling fruit. Hence, this consumption trend remains a concern for traders.

Trade: For MY2010/11, post estimates Japanese world imports of fresh tangerines to be approximately 12,000 metric tons, a 10 percent increase from the previous season. In MY 2009/10, Japanese imports of U.S. tangerines bounced back to 2001 levels to 9,128 metric tons, an increase of 27 percent from last season. These imports were valued at approximately $12 million (CIF). The United States is by far the largest supplier of fresh tangerines to Japan, shipping Minneola tangelos* and other tangerine varieties. Other fresh tangerines suppliers include Australia, New Zealand and Chile. Fresh tangerine supplies from Australia declined approximately 30 percent in MY2009/10 due to a spike in Australian prices (approximately 17 percent higher than the previous year.) Higher Australian prices and a favorable exchange rate largely contributed to the increase in Japanese imports of U.S. tangerines.


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