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News 17.02.2022

Brazil: Rains favour citrus quality, but are not able to reverse all the damages caused by the drought

Orange prices increased in the Brazilian in natura market in the first fortnight of February. According to Cepea collaborators, frequent rains in the citrus belt (São Paulo State) favoured the quality (majorly the size) of oranges, making them suitable for sale in the in natura segment …

razil: Rains favour citrus quality, but are not able to reverse all the damages caused by the drought
(Photo: CEPEA)

Orange prices increased in the Brazilian in natura market in the first fortnight of February. According to Cepea collaborators, frequent rains in the citrus belt (São Paulo State) favoured the quality (majorly the size) of oranges, making them suitable for sale in the in natura segment and allowing farmers to raise asking prices. Besides, rainfall also hampered the harvesting, limiting supply. In that scenario, values remained firm.

Usually, orange availability is not high in February – a month that may even be considered offseason –, however, as the 2021/22 season is late, supply is currently higher. Still, there is not an orange surplus in the domestic market, since processing at industries has been faster than usual this month.

So far, the number of early varieties to be harvested is not high – activities are expected to step up only from March onwards. However, supply may be constrained by the low flower set in the first blooming. Thus, the oranges currently available in the in natura market are mostly late varieties and pear oranges out of the ideal period.

TAHITI LIME – The production of tahiti lime is also being favoured by rains, however, farmers reported difficulties to harvest the fruits, which underpinned prices in the first fortnight of February, although it is currently the peak of harvest for tahiti lime in Brazil.

Despite the recent valuations for oranges and tahiti lime, Cepea collaborators have reported that the current economic scenario in Brazil is still constraining higher price rises. With high unemployment and inflation rates and lower income, the purchase power of many consumers is weak.

ESTIMATES – Although rains have favoured the quality of part of the fruits in orchards, they have not been enough to reverse all the damages caused by the drought to the oranges from the 2021/22 season.

According to data from Fundecitrus released on Feb. 10, the orange output (São Paulo + Triângulo Mineiro) in the 2021/22 season is still estimated at 264.14 million boxes of 40.8 kilograms, the same as that estimated in December, but 10 % below that forecast at the beginning of the season.

According to Somar/Climatempo (weather forecast agency), rainfall in SP between May/21 and Jan/22 was 25 % below the average for the period. In the Triângulo Mineiro, rains were 5 % higher than the average. Thus, orange growth was hampered, and the average fruit weight decreased. However, it is important to consider that the oranges harvested in February and in March 2022 are expected to be slightly larger, since they have been favoured by recent rains.

The volume harvested is still enough to replenish ending stocks at the processing plants in SP. According to CitrusBR, by the end of the 2021/22 season (in June 2022), the volume of Frozen Concentrate Orange Juice (Equivalent) stocked is expected to total 170 – 190 thousand tons, lower than the strategic level (250 thousand tons). It is important to consider that new estimates are supposed to be released until the end of February.

In this scenario, the harvest in 2022/23 needs to be large enough to raise stocks at least to the strategic level and thus prevent a world shortage of orange juice. Cepea calculations show that the orange output next season needs to total, at least, 330 million boxes in order to raise juice stocks to 250 thousand tons.

PROGRESS OF THE 2021/22 HARVESTING – According to Fundecitrus’ report, 82 % of the orange orchards had been harvested by mid-January/22, similar to that in the same period last season (81 %).

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