Although production in the current crop (2017/18) has increased, orange prices in São Paulo kept at firm levels in 2017 in the industry and in natura segments, underpinned by higher demand from citrus processors.
An estimate released by Fundecitrus (Citrus Defense Fund) in December indicated that the 2017/18 production might total 385.2 million boxes, 57 % higher compared to the 2016/17 season (one of the smallest productions in all times) and possibly the highest supply since 2012/13. Therefore, based on the forecast for higher production, players from the industry expect crushing activities to be intense in early 2018. Since the beginning of activities in 2017, processors operated at a fast pace, at 100 % of the capacity in practically all units.
Higher production in the citrus belt also changed the purchasing scenario. Before sizing the production, major processors in São Paulo started to contract fruits in the last quarter of 2016, and trades amounted to 26.00 BRL per 40.8-kilo box, harvested and delivered, regardless of early, mid-season and late varieties.
These trades, however, were not observed again in 2017, because processors had comfortable inventories and limited new purchases in the spot market, as the volume was already contracted and there was no expectation for restrictions of raw material supply. Thus, values were around 18.00 BRL per box. In the partial of the season (from July to December), prices paid for pear oranges and late varieties in the sport market averaged 18.96 BRL per 40.8-kilo box, harvested and delivered at the factory, moving down 14.7 % compared to the average of the second semester in 2016.
Output was higher and was welcome to help reduce very low ending stocks in 2016/17. According to estimates from CitrusBR (Brazilian Association of Citrus Exporters), inventories of SP processors may recover by 93 % in June 2018, at 207.6 thousand tons of Frozen Concentrate Orange Juice (FCOJ) Equivalent.
IN NATURA MARKET – The off-season period pushed up pear orange quotes, which hit a nominal record in February, averaging 43.91 BRL per 40.8-kilo box, 118 % more than that verified in the same month of 2016. From May onwards, higher supply and limited purchases in the spot market pressed down quotes, which registered lower levels than those in 2016, but kept firm, considering recent prices. In the second semester, values averaged 18.18 BRL per 40.8-kilo box, on tree, for a decrease of 34.9 % in relation to one year ago.
TAHITI – Tahiti lime prices were close to expectations in 2017, with lower quotes in the first semester, due to higher supply, and a gradual recovery in the second part of the year, because of the off-season. Last year, Tahiti lime prices averaged 33.98 per 27-kilo box, harvested, 18.8 % lower than in the same period of 2016, in nominal terms. As for demand, Tahiti exportations registered record volumes until July/17. In the second semester, on the other hand, due to the smaller Brazilian production, price rises and the competition with the Mexican crop, shipments dropped.
EXPORTATIONS – Low production in Florida reflected in an increase of volume equivalent to concentrate juice in this partial of 2017/18 crop. To the United States alone, sales increased 56 % in the period (July to November/17) compared to the previous one. To all destinations, in turn, the volume amounted 514 thousand tons, 22 % more in the same comparison. In the 2016/17 season (July/16 to June/17), exportations dropped 17 %, totaling 950.92 thousand tons.