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Market Data 25.05.2022

Rising production costs concern Brazilian farmers

As observed for other agricultural products, the production costs of citrus farming have increased sharply in Brazil, due to higher inputs prices, majorly fertilisers. This scenario is concerning farmers in Brazil, considering that citrus production was low …

Rising production costs concern Brazilian farmers
(Photo: CEPEA)

As observed for other agricultural products, the production costs of citrus farming have increased sharply in Brazil, due to higher inputs prices, majorly fertilisers. This scenario is concerning farmers in Brazil, considering that citrus production was low in the two previous seasons, which resulted in higher costs per unit.

Even if productivity and production increase in the 2022/23 season – compared to that in 2020/21 and 2021/22, because of the slightly more favourable weather –, higher inputs prices are expected to limit a possible reduction in the production cost per unit. Thus, profit margins may be lower than the expected, despite orange valuations in 2022/23 – so far, the ceiling orange price is at BRL 32.00 per 40.8-kilo box, harvested and delivered to processing plant (considering only large-sized processors).

Tight profitability may continue to constrain investments in both crops’ renewal and replating, mainly because shorter-cycle crops, such as soybean crops, are currently more attractive and bring better opportunities to farmers.

Last year, after five consecutive years of stability, the area allocated to citrus farming shrank in São Paulo and the Triângulo Mineiro (citrus belt), according to data from Fundecitrus, which may happen again in 2022.

Lower profit margins may also hamper adequate crop management in the citrus belt. Lower investments in crops’ renewal and replanting added to difficulties related to crop management may reduce orange production even more in the mid-term. Low supply may underpin prices, since the stocks of orange juice at the processing plants in SP are not high, and production needs to be higher for inventories to be replenished.

Citrus market

The domestic demand for oranges has not been high enough to raise prices. According to Cepea collaborators, many purchasers are trying to pay lower prices, putting farmers off selling oranges in the domestic market.

Brazilian citrus farmers claim that, if prices drop lower than the current levels, sales in the in natura market will become unviable. Currently, juice processors are bidding prices up to BRL 32/box (harvested and delivered). Although the values paid by processors include the harvesting and freight, the quality standard required by this segment and the risks of default are lower, making sales to the industry more attractive.

In this scenario, if the demand from processors continues high and prices, attractive, sales to the in natura market are expected to decrease, at least during the Winter and the beginning of Spring, when supply increases, while demand decreases. Also, most oranges have not reached the ideal maturation stage yet, allowing farmers to wait and sell the oranges when the processing activities in the 2022/23 season begin, forecast to late May/early June.

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