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

  • The top producers of oranges are Brazil, China, EU, Mexico and the US (SA is at number 8) (USDA, 2018).
  • The top producers of grapefruit are China, US, Mexico, South Africa and Turkey. SA is the top exporter and, after the US, the top processor (USDA, 2018).
  • The top producers of lemons and limes are Mexico, Argentina, EU, US and Turkey (SA is at position 6). SA is at 5 for processing and 3 for exporting (USDA, 2018).
  • The 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 and the monthly “Citrus: World Markets and Trade” from the USDA at

South Africa: imports and exports

The annual Fresh Fruit Exporter Directory gives trade statistics for the citrus and other fruit sectors. Download it at the Fresh Produce Exporters’ Forum (FPEF) website,

South Africa is the second largest exporter of citrus fruit. Seventy percent of the South African crop is exported; the rest is sold locally as fresh produce or channelled to the processing industry.

  • The Middle East (23%), UK and EU (42%) are our dominant export markets for oranges. Grapefruit, our next largest citrus crop, goes to the EU (43%) and Japan (23%).
  • At 40% the Middle East is our largest market for lemons, followed by the EU (23%).

The decision by the UK to leave the EU is a cause for optimism. Since it has no citrus industry, there is no need for protectionist measures like the EU has. In 2018, the South African citrus industry anticipates markets in the Philippines and Vietnam to open, and for greater access to the US market.

The Citrus Growers Association website – – has information on packed and shipped volumes which is updated weekly during the citrus season. All growers of export citrus who pay the levy, and exporters who are registered with FPEF (Fresh Produce Exporters Forum) have access to this information, as do members of the CMF (Citrus Marketing Forum). Passwords for the Grower Section of the website are available by contacting gloria [at]

The MRL’ s or Recommended Usage Restrictions For Plant Protection Products On Southern African Export Citrus MRL’s are also on the Citrus Growers Association website – This document was compiled by Vaughan Hattingh (Citrus Research International) and Paul Hardman (Citrus Growers Association of Southern Africa) and is updated twice a year.

The Perishable Products Export Control Board (PPECB) does the auditing of South African fresh produce businesses for the Food Safety requirements which came into effect in 2004.