- Segunda-Feira 30 de Novembro de 2020
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Brazils citrus industry closes ranks over new orange crop

UNCONFIRMED reports say that Brazil is expecting a bumper processing orange harvest. FOODNEWS sources claim that the harvest looks like being as big as 380 million boxes: possibly even 400 million boxes, and that citrus farmers are already negotiating at much lower price levels than last year.

If true, this will almost certainly mean a steep fall in the price of FCOJ, especially as the US retail market remains in the doldrums. FCOJ is presently priced around USD2 700-2 750 per tonne cfr duty unpaid Rotterdam.

Florida has also recently announced an improved forecast, and reports from Europe speak of demand already reducing, so stretching the available supply.

Contacts in Brazil have been uncharacteristically reticent to give out any information. For the first time since 2001, the official harvest announcement will be made by CitrusBR, the processors' organisation, on 2 May, during the Agrishow. This is one of the country's biggest agri-business meetings, held in Ribeirão Preto, São Paulo state.

CitrusBR's announcement is being co- ordinated with the forecast to be announced on the same date by the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture of Brazil and the Secretary of Agriculture of São Paulo. Their forecast takes the form of an official announcement by the CONAB/IEA institutes.

"This is part of the process of transparency and information co-ordination that has been demanded from our sector for a long time. So far, we already know that the figures [for the] orange harvest will be higher than 2010 but we have to wait [for the announcement] that will be communicated on 2 May," Christian Lohbauer of CitrusBR told FOODNEWS.

In its first survey on 21 February, CONAB estimated that the orange crop in São Paulo would be 353 million boxes, 9.56% higher than the 322.2 million boxes of the 2010 harvest.

A subsequent survey was scheduled to be released in mid-March, but was delayed because of rain. It is possible that this rain has swelled the fruit and contributed to a larger harvest.

This silence by all parties concerned is surprising, as Brazil is quite happy to announce that it is having a record year for cotton, another record year for soya and a very good year for grain: nowhere, on all the official websites, is there any hint of how good the orange crop will be.

A well-placed source responded to FOODNEWS' initial enquiry with a promise of information, but subsequently back- pedalled and said: "Consulting my sources in Brazil, it is too early yet."

One estimate is that the fruit price will be around BRL10.00-11.00 USD (6.20-6.82) per box. Last year's spot market price was very high, at around BRL15.00/box, but then this followed an unusually low year in 2009, when the price was around BRL4.00/box.

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