Global markets news – Post date: August 5th, 2020.

Global banana market – overview

Besides citrus fruits, bananas are one of the few products that have seen market demand increase due to the coronavirus; however, demand is falling somewhat in the summer due to competition from summer fruits (Fresh Plaza, 24 July). This decline is more pronounced than many growers, exporters and importers had initially expected. Although that now means low prices, the prospect is that the price will rise further towards the end of the year, not only because summer fruits will be off the market, but also because fewer bananas will be grown because of a shortage of workers in South America due to the coronavirus. There are also reports of dry weather, which may take a toll on the volumes.

European markets

Banana sales are on the rise this year. “We saw quite a peak in March and April, when significantly more bananas were consumed. That peak has already been left behind, but sales are still up compared to other years,” says an importer. Normally, July and August are the months with the most limited banana trade; that decline is currently not as great because many people are on holiday in their own country and the supply of other summer fruits was initially lagging.

In the German wholesale market, prices have been steadily falling for both Class I and II fruit. In mid-April, in the middle of the coronavirus crisis, they had risen to a record high level. Banana prices are currently comparable to the average of previous years. Germany is not only a major buyer of bananas, but also an important transit country for the Northern and Eastern European market (through the ports of Bremen and Hamburg). Denmark, Poland and the Czech Republic are the main markets.

In France, bananas were one of the products with the best sales during the lockdown. Demand is always lower from June to September, partly due to competition with summer fruits. This year, the production of French bananas (in Guadeloupe and Martinique) is under pressure due to the dry weather since March this year.

In Italy, bananas also did well during the lockdown. Demand has been high and supply not that abundant, resulting in high prices. The supply is currently stable and the demand is lower than during the lockdown.

For more detail see Fresh Plaza, 24 July.

Global orange market – overview

Due to the coronavirus, the demand for citrus fruits remains high, which is reflected in prices; however, the peak has already passed and prices are falling back to a more normal level (Fresh Plaza, 17 July). Production is currently under way in the Southern Hemisphere, with South Africa, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Peru, Chile and Australia as the main exporting countries. There is also still a limited production of oranges in California and Italy which is mainly intended for the local markets.

European markets

Demand for oranges in Europe is currently extremely good, but this is mainly because there is very little, if any, fruit available from Egypt, Morocco and Spain. South Africa is struggling to fill the gap in the short term, because not all areas are in full production yet. The problems in the ports and the consequent delays are also not helping. This situation is expected to continue for about four weeks and then change somewhat as we enter the traditional time with less demand.

In Germany, the coronavirus crisis has led to high citrus fruit sales. The peak has now been left behind, although the demand is still higher than normal. The last batches from Egypt came on the market at the beginning of July. At the moment, people have fully switched to South African Valencia oranges.

In France, the sale of oranges during the lockdown has been exceptionally good. However, the yield of the Valencia Late variety has been small this year, and as a result, Spanish growers have been pushing prices up sharply. Those high prices are now causing problems on the market, says a French importer.

There is still Italian fruit on the market. Some growers from Apulia have oranges that they harvested in the first 15 days of July. These Valencia oranges are late oranges with leaves, highly appreciated for their high sugar content and juiciness. There is also high demand, partly because of the coronavirus, which has given a boost to the sale of citrus fruits.

In Sicily, the campaign came to a close in the first half of May. Although volumes were higher than last year, many producers have seen their sales remain virtually unchanged. The Sicilian product was largely absorbed by the domestic market. The demand from foreign markets was also good, with excellent results in Scandinavian countries, where the reputation of the Sicilian production is improving year after year. This season, it has also been possible for some traders to deliver their fruit to the Dutch market, meeting some regular small orders.

Although the Spanish orange harvest has been about 15-20% smaller than last year, and despite the significant reduction of overseas trade, this year’s export volume has been comparable to that of the previous season. For example, orange exports in Andalusia increased by 10% in terms of volume and by 17% in terms of value compared to last year. The Spanish citrus sector is now concerned about the possible import duties that the UK could apply to its citrus because of Brexit.

South Africa

As a result of strong demand, the export of South African Navel and Valencia oranges has increased compared to the previous season. Shipments to the North American and British markets have also increased. The export of oranges to Southeast Asia is the only one that has been reduced compared to the previous season. The delays in the logistics could result in large volumes of oranges arriving at their destination at the same time.

For more detail see Fresh Plaza, 17 July.

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