Grapefruit trade: In MY2009/10, Japanese total grapefruit imports declined for a third year to 167,783, down 7 percent from last season. Nonetheless, the strong yen is encouraging Japanese importers to increase their trading activities. The current exchange rate is 82 yen per dollar (based on the Nikkei News quote on November 12, 2010) compared to 88 yen per dollar a year ago.
Despite Japan’s current economic recession, the yen’s buying power continues to increase. Hence, post anticipates Japanese world imports of grapefruit to rebound in MY2010/11 and marginally increase to 175,000 metric tons. The United States is the largest supplier of fresh grapefruit to Japan, supplying approximately 70 percent of the total Japanese imports.
The United States supplied 117,140 metric tons of fresh grapefruit in MY2009/10, a slight increase from last season and valued at $136 million on a CIF basis. About 95 percent of U.S. grapefruits shipped to Japan come from Florida followed by California and Texas. According to Florida Department of Citrus, in MY2010/11 Japanese imports of Florida grapefruit are expected to be around 6.6 million cartons, or 112,000 metric tons, an increase of 5 percent from MY2009/10.
The weight per carton for Florida grapefruit is approximately 17 kilograms. This season’s Florida grapefruit sales began in October and are expected to last until June of 2011. Peak sales are likely to take place in February through May, when the grapefruit flavor reaches maturity.
According to Tokyo traders, due to short rainfalls during the Florida growing season, the new crop yielded smaller sized fruit but they predict the fruit will be high quality and with good flavor.
South Africa is the other major supplier to Japan, sharing approximately 28 percent of the total imports (including imports from Swaziland). In MY 2009/10, Japanese imports of South African grapefruit decreased unexpectedly by 23 percent to 46,818 (South Africa and Swaziland) valued at $32 million of a CIF basis. South African grapefruits are sold during the summer season and therefore do not compete directly with Florida grapefruit in the Japanese market. Usually, South Africa’s new crops arrive in June and are actively sold until September but this was not the case during MY2009/10. According to Tokyo traders, in the summer of 2010, excess stocks of Florida grapefruit in the Japanese market and a poor South African crop discourage Japanese traders from importing further. As a result of reduced import volumes,