In late February, the large-sized processors in São Paulo made their first purchase proposals for the oranges from the 2022/23 crop. Of the three companies in the state, two of them are interested in closing deals, bidding from BRL 30 – BRL 32.00 per 40.8-kilo box, harvested and delivered. The third processing plant was only renewing existing contracts. However, the number of deals closed is still low, since farmers expect prices to rise higher, due to both firm demand from the industry and, largely, higher production costs.
Indeed, data recently released by CitrusBR show that the volume of orange juice stocked by the end of the current season (in June 2022) will not be enough to supply the international market until the middle of next season. According to CitrusBR, ending stocks of Frozen Concentrate Orange Juice (FCOJ) Equivalent in the 2021/22 season are expected to total 126.574 thousand tons – possibly ranging between 115 and 135 thousand tons. It is important to mention that previous estimates (from September 2021) pointed to stocks between 170 and 190 thousand tons, but bad weather conditions (drought and frosts) reduced processing and hampered fruits development and ripening (influencing industrial yield).
If CitrusBR’s forecasts are confirmed, the volume stocked is expected to be much lower than the strategic level, of 250 thousand tons, scenario that may be observed at least until the end of the 2022/23 season (in June 2023) if the number of oranges produced is not high.
Cepea calculations show that, for stocks to surpass the strategic level by the end of next season, the number of boxes harvested in the citrus belt in São Paulo and the Triângulo Mineiro needs to be over 340 million – and of this total, 300 million need to be allocated to the industry. For these results were considered sales of a million tons (slightly lower than the average) and the average industrial yield of the past five crops.
Although it seems juice supply in Brazil will be tight for at least one more season, agents from processors have not reported any significant valuations for the commodity yet. This would be the major reason why bids for the new season have not been higher. On Feb. 23, the May contract at ICE Futures closed at USD 1,993/ton, 2 % down from that on December 30. However, it is important to mention that values at ICE Futures do not reflect real sales prices of processing plants.
One of the facts that may be constraining juice valuations abroad is the fear of bottling plants as for the negative effects of higher prices in Brazil. In the major destinations for the Brazilian orange juice, the United States and the European Union, demand for the product has been fading for some years, majorly because of the wide variety of other beverages, such as flavoured water, energy drinks and other types of juice, for instance.