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Chilean Citrus on Track for Strong Export Season Globally and to China

August 05, 2021

With the May to November Chilean citrus season at approximately its midpoint, total exports of Chilean citrus to the world are forecast to grow by a respectable 6.25% in 2021. Furthermore, this season, the second since China granted market access to Chilean lemons, mandarins, grapefruits and oranges, exports to China of Chilean citrus look set to surpass those in 2020.

In early July, the Chilean Citrus Committee of the Chilean Fruit Exporters Association (ASOEX) released an updated season export forecast, which noted, “Clementine volumes, originally expected to increase by 7% to 55,000 tons, are now projected to jump to 59,000 tons, a 14% increase over 2020. Export volumes of lemons, navels and mandarins remain in line with the first 2021 forecast (98,000, 89,000 and 145,000 tons, respectively).”

The updated total export forecast for Chilean citrus in 2021 is 391,000 tons. Lemons and clementines are typically the first Chilean citrus products to arrive on the market each season, followed by oranges and mandarins. According to data from ASOEX, through week 28 (July 12–18), Chile’s total citrus exports stood at 115,488 tons.

Importers and retailers welcomed the news last year that Chilean citrus had been approved for the China market. Not only does Chile provide a counterseasonal supply but it is also the Southern Hemisphere’s second-largest exporter of citrus and has a good reputation in China for supplying fruits of high and consistent quality. Furthermore, owing to Chile’s status as a fruit-fly-free country, its citrus does not need to undergo quality-degrading cold treatment prior to import into China.

In 2020, Chile reportedly exported 46 tons of clementines, 5,650 tons of lemons, 1,031 tons of mandarins and 404 tons of oranges to China — totaling 7,131 tons.

Data from so far this season show that China will surpass 2020 import levels for at least Chilean clementines. According to the data, if current trends hold, it seems likely that exports of Chilean lemons, oranges and mandarins to China will also see year-on-year increases in 2021.

The United States remains the main market for Chilean citrus and is expected to receive approximately 85% of Chile’s citrus exports this year. However, the opening and gradual growth of imports into the China market is good news for both Chilean exporters hoping to diversify their sales channels and Chinese importers, retailers and consumers, who will have more choice in citrus fruits.

The charts below will give readers from the fresh produce industry more insight into the overall progression of the 2021 season for specific Chilean citrus products.

Images: ASOEX

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