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On 18 April 2024, WCO members gathered for its fifth Annual General Meeting (AGM). During the AGM, WCO presented the consolidated data of the production and export forecasts for the forthcoming Southern Hemisphere citrus season 2024. The preliminary forecast was collected thanks to WCO members in Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Peru, South Africa, and Uruguay. In addition, the Association also marked its first change in leadership with the election of a new Steering Committee that will guide its work in the upcoming two years.

During WCO’s AGM, the preliminary forecast for the upcoming Southern Hemisphere citrus season was presented to representatives from the citrus sector in Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Peru, South Africa, and Uruguay, citrus production is expected to decrease by 0.77 % compared to the previous year, with an estimated production of 24,338,123 tonnes. Exports, however, are expected to continue increasing, with a projected growth of 7.45 % compared to 2023 to reach 4,156,879 tonnes.

Orange production is forecasted to decrease by 5.66% compared to 2023, with 15,478,167 T in total. Soft citrus production is expected to increase significantly (+ 11.58 %, 3,325,829 T in total). A 5.69 % increase is projected for lemon production (3,244,857 tonnes in total), while grapefruit production should decline by 3.89 % (to 532.539 tonnes in total). Limes are forecasted to reach 1,756,731 T, which is 10.57 % above the 2023 figure.

The Southern Hemisphere season has been negatively impacted by difficult climatic conditions, as drought-like conditions in the Southern Hemisphere negatively affected production. However, expectations have improved recently, leading to only a slight decrease in production.

WCO marks its first leadership transition, demonstrating its transition towards full maturity, as demonstrated by the switch in leadership from the two previous Co-Chairs, Justin Chadwick (for the South Hemisphere) and José Antonio García (for the North Hemisphere) to a new team formed by Sergio del Castillo (for the South Hemisphere) and Badr Bennis (for the North Hemisphere), who will guide the work of the Association over the upcoming two years.

The two outgoing Co-Chairs highlighted WCO’s notable achievements since its founding, quadrupling its membership, making WCO a notable forum for citrus sector actors to exchange perspectives and data on matters of common concern. WCO has launched over the last five years new instruments like common data reporting formats and interactive databases for members with the latest production and trade forecast data, dedicated working groups to explore ways to boost the marketing and the promotion of all citrus categories, hosting of physical and online events allowing the sector to discuss and interact, helping to further the knowledge of actors, and liaising with the media to help promote the visibility of the sector.

Paul Graham, GB Managing Director at Britvic, has been appointed as the new President of the British Soft Drinks Association (BSDA) trade body following election at its AGM.

Paul takes over from Nichols CEO Dr Marnie Millard OBE, who led a number of initiatives during her time as President, including the BSDA’s role as a founder-member of Circularity Scotland Ltd, a scheme administrator for Scotland’s deposit return scheme (DRS).

Paul joined Britvic in September 2012 having worked in a range of commercial roles across all trade channels for United Biscuits and Mars Confectionery. He was promoted to his current position in July 2013 and was appointed Vice President of the BSDA in 2020.

He said: “I am delighted to be elected as the new BSDA President. I aim to continue the outstanding work of Marnie and past presidents on making further significant progress on a wide range of soft drinks-related issues, not least helping our partners in the hospitality sector get back on their feet after an extremely challenging year.

“As a founder-member of Circularity Scotland, the BSDA continues to work closely with the Scottish Government to develop its DRS, which is currently due to be introduced in 2022, although we are eager to see the Scottish Government review this date to help ensure delivery of a well-designed DRS system in Scotland that works for consumers and businesses.”

William Watkins, Founder and Owner at Radnor Hills, has been elected to replace Paul as Vice President of the BSDA. William founded Radnor Hills in 1991 on his family farm based on the Welsh borders. The business now produces more than 350 million products per year.

The BSDA represents UK producers of soft drinks, including carbonated drinks, still and dilutable drinks, fruit juices and bottled waters. Membership includes the majority of Britain’s soft drinks manufacturers as well as franchisors, importers and suppliers to the UK soft drinks industry.