Table of Contents


Refer also to the "Fruit" chapter


1. Overview

  • Citrus comprises the following broad categories: oranges, soft citrus, grapefruit, and lemons and limes.
  • These can be consumed as fresh fruit or processed for juice making, juice concentrates and dried fruit production. Citrus fruit can also be processed as essential oils obtained from fruit peels.
  • These are used by the flavour houses to add flavour to drinks and food, by pharmaceutical companies, in aromatherapy and by the cosmetics industry.


2. International business environment

  • Southern Hemisphere Association of Fresh Fruit Exporters (SHAFFE) represents, as the name suggests, several southern hemisphere fresh fruit exporters: Argentina, Australia, Chile, New Zealand, Peru, South Africa and Uruguay. See Other major citrus producing countries include China, Brazil, the EU (France, Greece, Italy and Spain), Egypt, Turkey and Morocco.
  • Find the citrus option at
  • The top processors of citrus are Brazil, USA, EU and Mexico.
  • The top exporters of citrus are Egypt, South Africa, USA and Turkey.
  • The top importers are the EU, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Hong Kong.
Source: Citrus: World Markets and Trade, USDA, July 2016.


3. Local business environment

The latest Citrus Market Value Chain Profile from the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries at (on the Directorate Marketing’s pages) provides an analysis of the citrus value chain.

Regions under citrus are climatically diverse. Examples are:

  • the semi-tropical areas of the low-lying eastern seaboard (Zimbabwe, Moçambique, and Limpopo, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal provinces of South Africa);
  • the higher lying subtropical areas (Nelspruit, Letaba, Zimbabwe middleveld);
  • the cool coastal areas of the Eastern and Western Cape.

The northern and eastern areas of Southern Africa are all summer rainfall areas, whereas the Western and Southern Cape enjoy a Mediterranean-type climate with winter rainfall. In the Eastern Cape a bimodal rainfall pattern exists with rains mostly occurring in spring and the fall. This broad climatic range from semi-tropical to Mediterranean-type climates has numerous, distinct advantages resulting in a wide range of cultivars being successfully produced from late February/early March through to late September/mid October.

Citrus produce in South Africa is sold through different marketing channels such as national fresh produce markets, informal markets (street hawkers), directly to processors for juice making and dried fruit production. The fruits are also sold directly to wholesalers and retailers through signed contracts. The larger portion is exported to foreign countries through export agents.

Any natural and/or phytosanitary disaster can also not equally affect all regions, and the supply of fruit from Southern Africa as a whole is thus fairly stable from year to year. However, this diversity also has disadvantages in terms of variability in quality of the same cultivar produced in different areas.

Because citrus production is primarily focused on export it is highly exposed to competition. Maintaining a good (cost competitive) position, high fruit quality (which includes compliance to phytosanitary standards) and keeping abreast with changes in world market trends are of the utmost importance.