News

  • 09 Mar
    Europe – Production of OJ to climb in Europe

    Europe – Production of OJ to climb in Europe

    European Union orange juice production is forecast to climb almost 8% in 2020-21 compared to the previous year, to 87,987 metric tonnes, the US Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service has reported. The forecast is in line with the expected growth in the volume of European oranges destined for processing this season, especially from Spain and Italy. Spain is the major orange processor in the union followed by Italy. About 20% of Spanish orange production is used in processing.

    While OJ is the most popular juice within the EU, it competes with other non-alcoholic drinks and other fruit juices. In recent years, such competition has effectively reduced consumption of OJ in Europe. However, consumption is forecast to grow slightly in 2020-21 as the result of increased domestic supplies and growing consumer interest for immune-strengthening products following the COVID-19 crisis.

    The EU is a net importer of OJ. However, during the last decade, imports of the juice declined by 17% due to the growth in domestic production and the downward trend of OJ consumption. During 2019-20, imports of the juice grew by 4% to stand at 686,223 metric tonnes.

    Brazil is by far the leading supplier of OJ to the EU market, representing nearly 91% of total imports, followed by Mexico, South Africa and Argentina. The United States used to be the third largest OJ supplier to the union, but imports of the US juice have declined since 2018. In 2019-20, the value of EU imports of US OJ dropped 27% to USD2 million due to lower US production, increased competition and European retaliatory tariffs on the US juice. In the past decade, EU exports increased by 45%. In 2019-20, the union exported 66,805 metric tonnes of OJ. CitrusIndustry

    By Caroline Calder News
  • 09 Mar
    Brazil – Crop failure of more than 30% in the 2020/21 season is confirmed

    Brazil – Crop failure of more than 30% in the 2020/21 season is confirmed

    The third production estimates for the Brazilian citrus belt (São Paulo and the Triângulo Mineiro) in the 2020/21 season, released by Fundecitrus, February 10, indicates that orange supply should total 269.01 million boxes of 40.8-kilograms each. This volume is 6.52% lower than that initially estimated and 30.45% below that in the previous season. This is also the worst annual decrease in all times.

    As low supply has been confirmed, orange prices continue firm in the Brazilian market. According to Fundecitrus estimates, 81% of the fruits had been harvested up to mid-January. The harvesting of pear oranges has reached 82% of the volume forecast, and for the late varieties (valencia, folha murcha and natal), 75%.

    According to Fundecitrus, the biennial production cycle and the unfavourable weather (drought and high temperatures) in the second semester of 2019 (flowering) and 2020 (fruit-filling stage) led to the current crop failure. The report from Fundecitrus also points that, although rainfall was higher in the citrus belt in December 2020 (8% up from the average), it was lower, irregular and short in January, due to the La Niña phenomenon.

    This is why the average weight of the oranges harvested was lower – usually, 261 fruits fill up a box, meaning that each orange should weight 156 grams, 8% down from the average of the last five crops. Cepea

    By Caroline Calder News
  • 09 Mar
    Zimbabwe – Extensive citrus plantation plans good news for region

    Zimbabwe – Extensive citrus plantation plans good news for region

    Schweppes Holdings Africa Limited’s subsidiary, Sunrise Citrus Estates, intends to establish a 2,700 hectare citrus plantation in Beitbridge with the project expected to create thousands of jobs across the value chain. It is also envisaged that the proposed project will add impetus to Zimbabwe’s exports growth. An Environmental Impact Assessment is already underway.

    In a joint statement, Sunrise Citrus Estates and African Sustainability Consultants said: “Sunrise Citrus Estates proposes to establish a citrus plantation in Beitbridge, Zimbabwe. The 2,700ha citrus plantation will create employment for local communities. The implementation of the project will enable the processing of juice for local and international markets as well as export of raw fruit.”

    Recently, Schweppes Zimbabwe announced 100% acquisition of Beitbridge Juicing Company in a vertical integration move that saw the beverage producer strengthening its supply chain by taking control of a key raw material in the form of orange juice concentrate. At the time of the acquisition, BBJ supplied Schweppes Zimbabwe with 75% of the company’s orange juice requirements for Mazoe Orange Crush while the remainder is imported from South Africa.

    Through the acquisition, it was hoped that the move would improve capacity utilisation at BBJ to enable Schweppes Zimbabwe obtain 100% of its juice, which is a key raw material for Mazoe Orange Crush, locally. The company is headquartered in Harare and the production plant is in Beitbridge close to the raw material which is oranges. Chronical.co.zw

    By Caroline Calder News
  • 09 Mar
    US – Growers woes as big chill continues in Texas

    US – Growers woes as big chill continues in Texas

    Farmers and ranchers in the US south continue to assess the damage following the record-setting and deadly Arctic blast. Texas State agricultural officials say the cost of this storm will be in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

    “Just our citrus industry, their loss of just the fruit, not including damage to trees, is over USD300 million and it will put a lot of our citrus growers out of business,” said Sid Miller, commissioner of agriculture in Texas. “Dairymen are going to go bankrupt and some of our poultry farmers, but this all could have been avoided.” The straight-talking Miller lamented over not just the arctic air’s disastrous impact on fruits, vegetables and livestock, but also the State’s own hand in worsening the crisis by not prioritizing agricultural processors.

    He said his request to add agricultural processors to the critical infrastructure list still hasn’t been answered by Governor Greg Abbott, R-Texas. The State’s dairy industry has been particularly impacted as processors have gone without the power or natural gas needed to keep running.

    Meanwhile, in South Texas, fruits and vegetables were already planted in the ground and on the tree. “You don’t ever think about a freeze in the Rio Grande Valley, but our citrus crop is basically wiped out,” said Miller. “All of our oranges are gone and 60% of our grapefruit.”  He says the other 40% would still be good enough to squeeze for juice but the processing plants that do it don’t have power.  He expects it will take three to four weeks to survey the damage and get a final tally, although the true impact may take longer to figure out. Drovers.com

    Leo Espinosa, Sales Director, of Rio Grande Juice commented: “Remember that we just came from another event last Summer when Hurricane Hannah impacted the Texas Citrus Region, after the hurricane we lost about 30% of the Citrus crop, so this new freeze came to worsen the current conditions. We still don’t know yet about the impact of the freeze on next year crop, there will be for sure less fruit available due to the effect, however we still don’t know for sure how many trees were lost due to the freeze, more information can be confirmed within the next weeks to come.

    “Customers have been supportive & thankfully we face this year with a favorable juice concentrate inventory scenario, however we don’t know for next year how our inventory levels position will be in the case we face a low crop and therefore a low processing season. I am sure there will be some sort of government support for the Texas citrus growers but nothing yet confirmed.”

     

    By Caroline Calder News
  • 09 Mar
    Australia – New research affirms a unique peptide found in an Australian plant can destroy the number one killer of citrus trees

    Australia – New research affirms a unique peptide found in an Australian plant can destroy the number one killer of citrus trees

    New UC Riverside research shows that a naturally occurring peptide found in HLB-tolerant citrus relatives, such as Australian finger lime, can not only kill the bacteria that causes the disease, it can also activate the plant’s own immune system to inhibit new HLB infection. Few treatments can do both. Research demonstrating the effectiveness of the peptide in greenhouse experiments has just been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

    The disease is caused by a bacterium called CLas that is transmitted to trees by a flying insect. One of the most effective ways to treat it may be through the use of this antimicrobial peptide found in Australian finger lime, a fruit that is a close relative of citrus plants.

    “The peptide’s corkscrew-like helix structure can quickly puncture the bacterium, causing it to leak fluid and die within half an hour, much faster than antibiotics,” explained Hailing Jin, the UCR geneticist who led the research. When the research team injected the peptide into plants already sick with HLB, the plants survived and grew healthy new shoots. Infected plants that went untreated became sicker and some eventually died.

    “The treated trees had very low bacteria counts, and one had no detectable bacteria anymore,” Jin said. “This shows the peptide can rescue infected plants, which is important as so many trees are already positive.”

    The team also tested applying the peptide by spraying it. For this experiment, researchers took healthy sweet orange trees and infected them with HLB-positive citrus psyllids. After spraying at regular intervals, only three of 10 treated trees tested positive for the disease, and none of them died. By comparison, nine of 10 untreated trees became positive, and four of them died. ScienceDaily.com

    By Caroline Calder News
  • 12 Jan
    US – Hesperidin to be tested against COVID-19

    US – Hesperidin to be tested against COVID-19

    The National Institutes of Health’s National Centre of Biotechnology Information (NCBI) recently announced plans to evaluate the clinical efficacy of hesperidin against COVID-19. Orange juice and sweet oranges contain hesperidin. NCBI referred to hesperidin as “an old herbal medicine … used to treat vascular diseases in Europe and Australia and distributed with vitamin C as a dietary supplement in the USA.

    “Hesperidin is a promising drug candidate for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19,” NCBI continued. “Hesperidin interferes with viral entry through ACE2 receptors, improves the host cellular immunity, minimizes the release of inflammatory mediators and its mixture protects against venous thromboembolism.”

    NCBI stated that “Hesperidin is a common flavone glycoside found in citrus fruit such as lemons and sweet oranges. Hesperidin has several pharmacological activities such as anti-atherogenic, antihyperlipidemic, antidiabetic, venotonic, cardioprotective, anti-inflammatory and antihypertensive actions. The anti-inflammatory activity of hesperidin was mainly attributed to its antioxidant defence mechanism and suppression of pro-inflammatory cytokine production.”

    Florida Department of Citrus (FDOC) Executive Director Shannon Shepp reacted to the planned study: “We are aware of the recent study related to hesperidin and COVID-19. The Florida Department of Citrus is not currently involved in or planning any research related to COVID-19 but continues to monitor developments on the topic. Current research shows that 100 percent orange juice provides a variety of nutrients and beneficial plant compounds, including hesperidin, that when consumed daily can help support a healthy immune system.

    “Recent clinical studies supported by FDOC continue to reinforce the broad potential benefits of plant compounds with antioxidant-like properties, like hesperidin and carotenoids, found in 100% orange juice. Further studies on hesperidin, which is highly concentrated in citrus and rarely found in other foods, are necessary to learn more about its role in the diet.” CitrusIndustry

    By Caroline Calder News
  • 12 Jan
    EU – Lemon market feels the squeeze

    EU – Lemon market feels the squeeze

    Spanish lemon suppliers are facing a challenging market as the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic tightens its grip on Europe. With much of the hospitality industry closed or operating under restrictions, sales through the wholesale channel continue to be severely disrupted.

    However, retail sales are holding up relatively well, albeit under considerable pressure on prices. José Antonio García of Ailimpo said supermarkets were being ‘excessively aggressive’ with regard to price. Markets are well supplied this season thanks to a 14 per cent increase in Spanish Fino production and good availability of competitively priced Turkish lemons due to the devalued Turkish lira. Producers remain hopeful, however, that demand will pick up in the coming weeks so that markets don’t become oversupplied.

    “The market is still profitable, just less profitable than in previous years,” García commented, “Growers without GlobalGAP and GRASP certification who have failed to adapt to this new landscape will have fewer and fewer options to sell their crop and eventually be forced out of the market.” His comments came as agricultural union Asaja-Murcia called for the government to intervene to help struggling producers. Secretary general Alfonso Gálvez Caravaca warned that many small producers and family businesses could disappear unless they received urgent financial assistance. FruitNet

    By Caroline Calder News
  • 12 Jan
    Mexico – Edges out Brazil as chief supplier of orange juice to US

    Mexico – Edges out Brazil as chief supplier of orange juice to US

    Mexico has once again surpassed Brazil as the major supplier of orange juice to the United States.

    Although the dollar amount of orange juice shipped to the US between January and June is half as much as it was last year, Mexico exported USD142 million of juice in the first six months of 2020, considerably more than Brazil’s USD91 million.  Mexico exported USD333 million worth of juice last year, beating Brazil by USD3 million. A recent study by CitrusBR, an organization representing the three largest Brazilian exporters of orange juice, showed that sales from Mexico to the United States have skyrocketed since 2008, when US customs eliminated tariffs on imports of concentrated and frozen orange juice from Mexico as part of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

    In contrast, US imports of orange juice from Brazil pay a tariff of USD 415.86 per tonne.

    In 1993, when the US tax on juice from all sources was still USD490.02, Brazil exported 144,500 tonnes of concentrated and frozen orange juice to the United States. That volume has dropped to just 71,100 tonnes in 2019. According to CitrusBR, Mexico’s exports of concentrated and frozen orange juice went from 9,800 to 74,700 tonnes in the same period.

    “With a good quality product, similar to that produced in Florida, and land freight around 50% cheaper than Brazilian maritime logistics, the Mexican product continues to gain [ground],” Brazilian newspaper Valor Economico reported in reference to the CitrusBR study.

    The United States Department of Agriculture forecasts that Mexico’s exports for the 2019-2020 season will total 104,850 tonnes, as drought has decimated the orange production affecting the supplies available for processing. The vast majority of concentrated and frozen orange juice production in Mexico is destined for export to the United States. There is some small trade with Europe, depending on prices. Likewise, Mexico imports a small amount of orange juice for supermarkets or small processors that have their own juice brands. Mexico has 342,885 hectares of orange orchards, 55% of which are located in Veracruz. Tamaulipas, Nuevo León, Puebla, San Luis Potosí, Hidalgo and Sonora also produce oranges. This year the heat and drought are expected to drop Mexico’s orange production per hectare by 34%. Most of Mexico’s orange trees are older, and therefore harder hit by the drought than other fruits. El Economista 

    By Caroline Calder News
  • 12 Jan
    Australia – Juice industry in damage control after health star rating changed to rank lower than diet cola

    Australia – Juice industry in damage control after health star rating changed to rank lower than diet cola

    Fruit growers and processors say they are crushed by a decision to cut the health star rating (HSR) for 100% no-added-sugar juices from five stars to as low as two stars. The Australian and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation, a group made up of state and territory ministers, met to consider its response to recommendations as part of the five-year HSR review.

    A communique from the forum released days after the event, indicated that a decision would be made on ratings for 100% and vegetable juices in February 2021. The Federal Government’s aim in developing the ratings is to give shoppers an easy way to identify better choices of packaged and processed foods, something Agriculture Minister David Littleproud asserts is undermined by the recommendation.

    “What I don’t accept is the insanity of this decision, which really has no basis on nutritional value — it really just is mind-numbingly dumb,” he said.

    Last chance to improve the HSR

    Food is rated from half-a-star to five stars depending on how its healthy and risk nutrients compare but the system has come in for criticism. The forum’s July 2020 communique revealed Mr Littleproud’s initial push — to see 100% fresh fruit and vegetable juice with no added sugar receive an automatic HSR score of five stars — was not supported and the review recommendations were maintained. Citrus Australia chief executive Nathan Hancock said he was disappointed with the decision.”It sends a really poor message to our consumers, who, let’s face it, need to have more fruit and vegetables,” he said. “Being told that diet soda is better for them than a juice product, we think, is confusing. Because diet soft drinks have artificial sugars, it elevates them above juices which have natural sugars.” ABC.net.au

    By Caroline Calder News
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