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In April, the citrus growers from São Paulo State fastened the harvesting pace of the 2020/21 orange crop. Although supply was not high, the volume harvested was enough to press down citrus quotes in the in natura market during the month. Besides, the demand for oranges decreased in April, due to the social distancing advice – because of the coronavirus pandemic –, constraining fruits sales to restaurants and other food services. Supply should continue higher than demand in May, which has been concerning citrus growers about prices.

As regards early varieties (rubi, hamlin and western, for instance), deals have been closed since March. However, only in late April these fruits were near the ideal maturation stage, when baía oranges started to be supplied. Sales and the harvesting of these varieties should step up from May, but the crop peak should occur only in June, when crushing is supposed to start. In April, the average price for hamlin oranges was 25.02 BRL per 40.8-kilo box, on tree, 18.7% down compared to that from March.

For pear oranges, the gradual decrease in the demand pressed down quotes in April. Thus, the average price for this variety was 8.15% lower than that from March, closing at 32.47 BRL per 40.8-kilo box, on tree. According to Cepea collaborators, the harvesting of the first pear oranges in the 2020/21 crop should step up from the second fortnight of May, once crops development is late and phased. However, some growers preferred to anticipate the pear orange harvesting, aiming to take advantage of the price levels – these citrus growers fear that prices may drop sharply in May, due to forecasts for higher volumes of early oranges in the market.

As regards processors, although supply is forecast to increase in May, crushing should be lower early in the month. This scenario has led the early fruits to be exclusively allocated to the in natura market. On the other hand, late oranges harvesting (valencia, natal and folha murcha) should end in the coming weeks.

As the harvesting of the 2019/20 orange crop steps up in the orchards of São Paulo, citrus prices dropped in the in natura market in April – this scenario should still be observed in May. Besides the higher supply of all varieties, the share of fruits that have not reached the ideal maturation stage for the in natura sector yet increased pressure on quotes.

Concerning early oranges (rubi, hamlin and westin, for instance), trades have been closed since March. However, only in late April these fruits reached a maturation stage closer to that demanded by the in natura market. Thus, the average price for hamlin oranges last month was 23.78 BRL per 40.8-kilo box, on tree, 14 % down compared to that in March.

As for pear oranges, the first fruits from the 2019/20 crop that were harvested had lower quality for the in natura sector, which pressed quotes in April. Thus, the price average last month, at 31.80 BRL per 40.8-kilo box, was 24.7 % lower than that from March. According to Cepea collaborators, the harvesting anticipation was an attempt of taking advantage of the high price levels – as growers are aware of the estimates indicating that the 2019/20 crop should be larger than the 2018/19, they fear that the prices paid for the fruits may drop sharply in the coming months.

For May, oranges quotes are expected to keep dropping, at least in the first fortnight. Besides the forecast for higher quality and supply in São Paulo, the crushing pace at processing plants should continue slow in the first days of the month. This scenario leads the early oranges that would be allocated for crushing to be sold in the in natura market.

2019/20 CRUSHING – The growers from São Paulo believe that the orange production in the 2019/20 season may be up to 40 % higher than that from 2018/19, based on orchards higher productivity. Higher supply in the new season, however, should allow the opening of new plants of the large-sized processing plants from SP this month. Higher crushing, however, is forecast only for June, when most fruits should reached the maturation stage desired by the sector.

Currently, only two plants of the large-sized processing plants are operating, in Araraquara and Matão. However, while one of them is still receiving fruits in the spot market, remaining from 2018/19, at 18 BRL per 40.8-kilo box, harvested and delivered at processing plants, the other is only receiving the oranges previously purchased, at more advanced maturation stages. Concerning the prices for the next season, remuneration in the spot market has not been defined yet.