Orange oil is a by-product of the juice industry. Oil is cold pressed from the peel of the fruit, after the juice extraction and is widely used across the flavour and fragrance industry. Sweet orange (citrus sinensis) is around 90% d’limonene, a product used across many more industries. Approximately 40% of global oranges are processed for juice and oil with 60% solely used as a fresh fruit for consumption.
The main production type of orange from South Africa is the Sweet Orange, Citrus sinensis. There is also a small amount of Blood Orange produced in the area. The 2 main types of orange oil produced are Valencia and Navel.
Navel production starts around May and ends in June and the Valencia starts around June through to October/November. It is grown mainly in the North East of South Africa and the Western Cape but there are producers in most regions of South Africa.
There is also a small amount produced in Zimbabwe, which has similar characteristics to the South African oil.
The fresh fruit market drives all citrus products in South Africa, so the majority of the fruit is produced for exporting as fresh fruit and traditionally the amount is quite similar year on year. There is approximately 400 tons of oil produced per season.
The Valencia usually has quite a high aldehyde level of around 1.5% and the profile of the oil is similar to the Brazilian orange. Given the troubles of aldehyde content in Brazil during 2015 it is expected that there will be more demand for the South African material.
The climate and weather conditions are very stable in South Africa and natural disasters are very few and far between. Whatever the reason, South Africa’s citrus market has had the luxury of no poor climatic conditions to contend with or diseases like greening (HLB). This has kept year on year production increasing at a healthy organic rate.
There are still side effects from the 2016 drought (September – November) as trees slowly recover and bear more fruit. Improved rainfalls (with the exception of the Cape regions) have generally seen a much better return in fresh fruit, although oil yields are said to be down as much as 35%. The fresh fruit markets have been buoyant and as a result fewer fruit has been sent for processing. This was a surprise to some, as many believed there would be an increase in the fruit available for processing this year. This leaves the net effect of the current conditions as one that doesn’t read well. Today oil volumes and availability remain low and prices high – following the global patterns.
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