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.
Orange is the largest citrus crop grown in South Africa, and the current 46,000 hectares under orange account for almost half the citrus area planted. The trend in plantings and production has been steadily upward over the past decade. Orange production in 2020/21 MY is estimated to increase by 2% to 1.65 million MT based on normal weather conditions, good rainfall in the main growing regions, the rise in area planted, better water management techniques by farmers, and new plantings of high yielding and late-maturing varieties. Nevertheless, drought conditions and hail damage have had an impact in some growing areas. Oranges are normally harvested between March and September, and, to date, the impact of COVID-19 on production, harvesting and labour has been minimal. South Africa prioritises fresh fruit exports and almost 80% of production is exported as fresh oranges. Fruit that does not meet export standards is processed and in 2020/21 MY estimated fresh fruit exports will be 1.28 million MT, (a 3% increase from 2019/20 MY), while 285,000 MT will be processed.
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