SA records record 2020 citrus season

South African final export figures show that the country had seen a record-breaking 2020 export season in the citrus industry that delivered 146 million cartons of South African citrus to the rest of the world.

Citrus Growers Association (CGA) chief executive Justin Chadwick said on Monday that these figures indicated phenomenal growth within the South African citrus industry, which remained the second largest exporter of fresh citrus in the world after Spain.

“This achievement is the result of close collaborations and partnerships within the industry and with the government, and is testament to the quality of South African citrus fruit which is in demand all over the globe.

“It is difficult to tangibly quantify the size and volume of the citrus exported last year, but if we were to stack 146 million cartons of fruit side-by-side, the line of cartons would span approximately 40 000km. That is equal to the height of 4.4 Mount Everest’s stacked one on top of the other,” said Chadwick.

Releasing the trade statistics for December 2020 last Friday, the South African Revenue Service (Sars) said the country recorded a trade surplus of R32 billion. These statistics included trade data with Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho and Namibia (BELN).

The year-to-date in the period between January 1 to December 31, 2020 saw a trade surplus of R270.63bn, which was an improvement from the R23.66bn surplus for the comparable period in 2019. Exports increased by 21.9 percent year-on-year while imports increased by 5.7 percent by the same period.

The CGA said this record-breaking export season followed the gazetting of the new citrus export levy last month.

Chadwick indicated they believed this levy would enable the citrus industry to grow its global market share even further through reinvesting grower funds into research, market access and transformation.

He said the CGA hoped to create even more jobs and bring in increased revenue for the country’s economy over the next four years.

In March 2020, CGA predicted a bumper export season, estimating that export volumes would reach 143 million cartons of fruit.

Chadwick noted their current estimates indicated that the citrus industry was expected to increase its exports by another 300 000 tons over the next three years.

“The growth projections for soft citrus, lemons and Valencia oranges alone indicate an expected additional R6.8bn in foreign exchange earnings and the creation of 22 250 sustainable jobs over the next three years,” he added. -IOL