( The Packer )

The demand for citrus has not disappointed in the post COVID-19 pandemic era, but the supply side has lagged a bit.

The U,S. Department of Agriculture has recently published a global citrus update, the report said 2019-29 production was down in several countries.

Selected verbatim highlights from the report:

  • Global orange production for 2019-20 is estimated to fall 7.8 million metric tons from the previous year to 46.1 million metric tons, as unfavorable weather resulted in smaller crops in Brazil (down 19%) and Mexico (down 45%). 
  • U.S. orange production is estimated down 5% to 4.7 million tons. Orange production in Florida has been trending down for years due to citrus greening with production less than one-third what it was 20 years ago. Consumption and exports are both up while fruit for processing is expected to be lower with the decline in production.
  • Global tangerine/mandarin production is estimated down 400,000 tons for 2019-20 to 31.6 million, with declines in the European Union, Morocco, Turkey, and the U.S. more than offsetting—ng a larger crop in China. 
  • U.S. tangerine/mandarin production is estimated down 20% to 806,000 tons due to unfavorable weather that lowered yields. Consumption is down due to lower available supplies while exports are flat with Canada and Japan expected to remain the top two markets.
  • Global grapefruit production in 2019-20 is estimated down slightly to 6.7 million tons due to unfavorable weather in Mexico and the U.S.;
  • Global lemon/lime production in 2019-20 is estimated down 975,000 tons to 7.6 million because of lower production in Argentina, the European Union, Mexico, Turkey, and the U.S.

Looking over per capita availability of fresh citrus fruits from the USDA’s latest numbers a couple of trends emerge.

First, the per capita availability of grapefruit has declined remarkably over the last 25 years. For example, in 1995 per capita availability was 6 pounds at the farm level. That decreased by 2000 to 5.1 pounds per capita. By 2005, per capita availability slid to 2.6 pounds, 2.2 pounds by 2015 and 1.4 pounds by 2019.

For any individual fruit, I am not sure there has been a greater decline in per capita availability — most of it, of course, owed to citrus greening and citrus canker in Florida. 

For lemons, it is a different story. Per capita availability and imports have been increasing.

Domestic production of lemons since 2000 has increased,  but not at a tremendous pace. In 2000, production was 1.03 billion pounds. That moderated to 997 million pounds by 2005 and dropped to 968 million pounds by 2010.

Domestic production jumped to 1.2 billion pounds again in 2015 and now sits at 1.4 billion pounds in the U.S.

Lemon imports in 2000 were 37 million pounds. That increased to 84 million pounds by 2005, 92 million pounds by 2010 and 161 million pounds by 2015. In 2019, U.S. imports of lemons jumped to 322 million pounds. So obviously, South American import supplies of lemons have increased substantially in this time frame.

Per capita lemon availability has increased from 2.24 pounds in 2005 to 4.7 pounds in 2019.

Limes have also shown increases in per capita availability and consumption.

Statistically speaking, all our lime supply is imported, mostly from Mexico.

Per capita lime availability has jumped from 1.4 pounds in 2000 4.1 pounds in 2019.

Oranges have shown a narrow range of per capita availability, starting at 11.6 pounds in 2000 to 11.4 pounds in 2005 but the falling to 8.1 pounds by 2019.

U.S. production of oranges has slipped from 4.3 billion pounds in 2000 to 3.3 billion pounds in 2019. Imports have increased from 101 million pounds in 2000 to 401 million pounds in 2019.

Domestic production and imports have grown for tangerines/clementines over the past two decades. The USDA reports per capita availability has increased from 2.9 pounds in 2000 to 6.8 pounds in 2019.

U.S. production of tangerines/clementines rose from 657 million pounds in 2000 to 1.6 billion pounds in 2019. Imports of tangerines/clementines rose from 220 million pounds in 2000 to 717 million pounds in 2019.

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