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.
Fresh Fruit Market
Once again Limpopo takes first place in orange production, accounting for 49% of the total area planted. The Eastern Cape follows a close second with 25%. The Western Cape and Mpumalanga fill in with 15% and 8% percent respectively. KwaZulu-Natal, Northern Cape and the North West Province contribute 1% each. Out of the total area dedicated to orange, 61% is the famed Valencia variety, while navel oranges cover 39% of the area.
Overall there has been a rise in the area of orange cultivation. With a perceived shift towards late blooming, high yielding orange crops and improved water management techniques, the crop size is predicted to be on the higher side. In fact, industry predictions peg the orange crop at 1.60 million MT in 2019, a 3% jump from 1.55 million MT in the last year. This however, will be evened out by the crop damage due to hail, dry weather and small fruit sizes. It is estimated that the area under orange plantation will expand by around 2% to reach 45,000 hectares in 2019 due to an increase in planting of the seedless orange variety. Parity, however, is on the cards as the Western Cape and Limpopo gradually turn their attention away from oranges to soft citrus farming.
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