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South African relief and anger at Spanish citrus allegations

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The South African Citrus Growers Association (CGA) has expressed relief and anger at the admission of the Spanish Citrus Management Committee (CGC) that there were no South African citrus on the shelves of Spanish supermarkets during December 2016.  Spanish growers’ union Unió de Llauradors alleged that “bad quality” citrus from South Africa was putting pressure on Spanish citrus growers. The CGC now says that the oranges were erroneously labelled as South African and were, in fact, of Spanish origin.

The South African Citrus Growers Association CEO, Justin Chadwick, calls the allegations “a slap in the face” for South African growers. “We’re very proud of our product and well-known for good quality citrus. A lot of growers were very upset.”

“We were very surprised at the allegation since our citrus reaches Europe before 15 October and our last Navel consignment by mid-September already. It would be very strange if oranges that old were still on the shelves since Spain produces excellent citrus themselves,” says Deon Joubert, CGA envoy to the European Union.

“However, it is a big concern for South Africa that such a mistake could occur at packhouses where labels are printed electronically. It’s difficult to see how this could have happened accidentally and one wonders if there was any intentional act here to stir up emotions between SA and Spain.”

If the mistake was the result of negligence, someone should be held accountable for the impact it has had on the reputation of the South African citrus industry, Chadwick says.

Joubert adds that South African citrus imports to Spain complement the local growing season and keeps citrus on the minds of local consumers year-round, thereby benefiting the Spanish citrus industry and that South Africa still considers Spain an excellent trading partner.

For more information:
Justin Chadwick
South African Citrus Growers Association
Tel: +27 (0) 31 765 2514

Author: Carolize Jansen
Publication date: 1/23/2017
Author: Nichola Watson

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New EC import regulations not feasible

Another blow for South African citrus?

The European Commission is set to propose new measures to regulate Citrus Black Spot and False Codling Moth. This would extend the current measures on CBS and introduce a regulation for the first time on FCM. South Africa, while not the only country to be affected by these possible new regulations, would be severely affected.

Some Southern EC Member States would, in addition to the regulations already in place, like to delete the derogation for citrus fruit processing [juice] with regard to CBS and on the FCM side they want to change the “consignment freedom” approach of the Commission to a mandatory cold sterlisation requirement for citrus fruit across the board.

To date, discussion among the Member States (SCOPAFF) are unresolved – there is no majority in favour of either approach – and the Commission will look to make compromises in view of a tentative vote at the January SCOPAFF.

The European Parliament is set to vote tomorrow, Wednesday 14 December, on the attached draft resolution, already passed last week in the Agriculture Committee, which aims to put pressure on the European Commission and the Member States to change the current approach, delete the derogation for processing in respect of CBS, and impose cold-sterilisation for all imported citrus.

Deon Joubert, Special CGA Envoy for Market Access & EU matters, stressed that if the new measures were implemented they would not come into force until the 2018 citrus season.

Joubert explains that the cold steri technology is 25 years old and these days the South African industry works more on the prevention side and there are projects in place to get the infestation down, he compares it to the reduction in CBS interception which over the last few years went from 18 to only 8 in 2016.

He also states that citrus is not the worst offender where the FCM is concerned, as capsicums and flowers have seen a lot more instances in recent years.

Traditionally the steri treatment has been used for small, long distance markets, such as Japan, and would not be feasible for the short 14 day journey to Europe. The process takes the fruit from 25°C, field temperature, and reduces it to 0.5°C. This is fine for some citrus fruit but not for lemons or the new soft citrus varieties, which would not be able to withstand the treatment. Joubert stresses that there are better ways to deal with it. He also said that not all of the producing areas have the FCM and it would not be wise to spray unnecessarily.

He concludes by saying that what the industry has done to reduce the instances of CBS shows South Africa’s commitment to comply with the EU regulations.

For more information:
Deon Joubert
Citrus Growers Association
Tel: +27 21 914 7174
Publication date: 12/12/2016
Author: Nichola Watson

South African citrus exports to EU increased 5%

South African citrus exports to EU increased 5%

The 2016 South African citrus season has come and gone. The 2016 crop was down 8%, largely due to drought. The export to Europe increased by 5.1% in a total of an 8% lower crop.

Year Total SA export EU/UK volume % crop
2014 112.0 m cartons 40.1 m cartons 36%
2015 118.3 m cartons 43.4 m cartons 36,7%
2016 109.2 m cartons 45.7 m cartons 41.8%
  1. “If one assesses citrus exports to Europe [UK included], SA has in all respects had a stunning year. This with a growth from 36.7 to 42% of the exported citrus fruit ending up here and a net carton growth of 2.3 million cartons during a year, with a 9.1 million carton drop in total exports. This to the market where a potential doomsday scenario of closure was facing us in 2012/13, due to CBS. This year’s CBS interception count of 4 must have seemed like a different world compared to the past 3 years of 2013 [35], 2014 [27] and 2015 [15]”, Deon Joubert, from Citrus Growers Association in South Africa, reported.

South Africa changed the situation, from possibly stopping exporting to Europe in 2012/13 altogether, into what is now a stable export destination. “This achievement came over a period when fellow citrus exporting 3rd countries to the EU experienced rising CBS interceptions. So is SA now the best of the “defaulters”? This status is unsatisfactory because although we are relatively “safe” for the moment, these problems can raise their ugly heads again very quickly if left unattended.”

For more information:
Deon Joubert
Tel: +27 219 147 174
Publication date: 12/9/2016

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South African citrus exports to EU increased 5%. Read more…