Cepea, May 16, 2018 – On Wednesday, May 9, Fundecitrus (Citrus Defense Fund) released new estimates for the 2018/19 season, reducing production in the citrus belt (São Paulo State and Triângulo Mineiro) by 27.6% compared to that in the previous crop. According to the report, harvesting in that region should total only 288.29 million orange boxes (40.8-kilo) in 18/19, 11% down compared to the historical average of the sector.
Lower estimates from Fundecitrus have confirmed Cepea forecasts for a smaller output in 2018/19, due to the damages and losses observed in the main flowering event (from August to October last year), mainly for pear oranges. That scenario was linked to the dry weather and high temperatures during the settlement of the flowers that would become the oranges from the new season. Still, the first estimates indicated losses around 20%, which could result in a higher production than that forecast.
Ending stocks for orange juice should be 22% larger on June 30, 2018 (at 254.2 thousand tons), according to CitrusBR (Brazilian Association of Citrus Exporters), but that is still the fourth lowest volume in the last 20 years. Thus, the citrus belt would have to harvest, once again, high amounts, in order to ensure comfortable inventories at processors. The demand for orange juice has been firm, mainly from the United States, making the global supply and demand scenario even more difficult.
However, in the short-term, growers’ revenue may not increase significantly, since most of them have already closed anticipated trades with processors – trades have been closed since November last year. Thus, only a few growers still have fruits available for trading.
Currently, only one of the large-sized processors has been purchasing fruits in the spot market. Before the new estimates were released, quotes for all varieties were at 15 BRL per 40.8-kilo, harvested and delivered at the processor. However, prices may increase as the crop nears and more processors enter the market.
In the mid-term, on the other hand, forecasts for the next season (2019/20) are more positive, considering juice inventories may be empty by June 2019. Besides, with the smaller output in Florida, international demand for the commodity should continue firm during the season. There are concerns with the weather in the coming months as well, which may lower the volume forecast even more.
BRAZILIAN MARKET – Orange sales increased in the in natura market in early May. According to growers, the beginning of the month, when workers’ wages are paid, may have favored demand. However, the average price for that variety in the first fortnight of the month was 19% lower than in the first fortnight of April. That scenario is linked to higher supply in São Paulo, as well as the slow crushing pace at processors, which led orange sales exclusively to the in natura market (these fruits would be allocated to processors for crushing). Between May 2 and 15, pear orange quotes averaged 25.81 BRL per 40.8-kilo box, on tree, 19% down compared to that in the first fortnight of April (2 – 13).
Tahiti lime quotes, however, continued at high levels in that period, both in the domestic market and for exportation. According to growers, the fruits still on tree have a good quality, but have not reached the ideal size to be harvested yet – due to the lack of rains in São Paulo. Thus, tahiti lime quotes averaged 49.17 BRL per 27-kilo box, harvested, between May 2 and 15, a staggering 174.2% up compared to the price average in the first fortnight of April.