As one of the prime countries of origin of citrus, China has plentiful and excellent citrus varieties, with a cultivation history extending back 4,000 years.
After a long period of cultivation and continued improvement, citrus has become a precious fruit for human beings.
1. Increased yield and optimized processing
According to statistics, 35% of the world’s total citrus production is used for processing. Compared to developed countries, China’s advanced processing of citrus is not very developed, and there is a big gap. While technology is advancing, citrus production is growing. Hence, China’s citrus processing industry will continue to grow.
Citrus comprises sweet orange, grapefruit, tangerine and lemon, with high nutritional value and special health function, being a popular fruit on the domestic and foreign fruit market. Besides its edible property, one can process citrus into various products, where rough processing generates tangerine peel, while advanced processing produces canned oranges, fruit juice drinks, preserved fruit, essential oils and fragrance.
2. Increased supply
The demand for citrus at home and abroad has been increasing, which leads to a continued increase of the planting area of citrus. According to data, the planting area of citrus orchards in China was 2.69 million hectares in 2020, up 3.04% year on year.
From the continuous expansion of the citrus planting area in China, citrus productions have shown a rising trend. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, China’s citrus production output was 28.6412 million tons in 2011, which increased to 51.219 million tons in 2020.
The rise in citrus production offers plentiful raw materials for the citrus processing industry, has extensively promoted the development of the citrus processing industry.
3. Increased demand
From the import and export standpoint, China’s citrus export from 2014 to 2019 was higher than import. In general, the supply of citrus exceeds demand in the Chinese market.
In terms of the volume of imports by China, it increased gradually from 2014 to reach 566,800 tons in 2019. The main imported citrus varieties are those in shortage in China, imported at a higher price.
With the development of the domestic economy and the rising living standard of the people, the demand for citrus is increasing. So, the import volume of citrus is rising.
In 2020, due to the impact of COVID-19, import and export declined to a different extent, of which the citrus import was 383,500 tons, down 32.3% year on year while export was 331,500 tons, down 67.3% year on year.
In terms of territory of trade, China imported the largest amount of citrus from South Africa in 2021 having reached $175.123 million, accounting for 35.6% of the total import value. It was followed by Australia with an import value of $96.474 million, accounting for 19.6%, while the third-largest was Egypt, with an import value of $92.328 million, accounting for 18.8%.
In recent years, with the increase of disposable income and the improvement of living standards in China, people’s requirement for quality of life has risen, which has increased the consumption of fruits. In this context, the citrus market demand is constantly growing. The data show that China’s citrus market demand in 2020 was 48.225 million tons, increasing 6.23% year on year.
4. Chinese citrus industry trending
a) Industry concentration, specialized growing and scale-up development
China is one of the prime countries of the origin of citrus, with plentiful and excellent varieties, with a cultivation history extending back 4,000 years. China’s cultivation area of citrus is mainly distributed 20 to 33 degrees north, at an altitude of 700 to 1,000 meters. This part of the planting area accounts for about 70% of China’s total citrus planting area. The climate in this part of planting area is warm and moist, which is fit for the growth of citrus. Thus, citrus in this part of the planting area shows higher yield and better quality.
b) Citrus breeding system establishment
Since the end of 2002, China has researched upgrading the quality and varieties of citrus, especially golden orange, Sekken and red orange.
After research and trials, the varieties and quality of Chinese citrus have much improved, where the proportion of wide-peel orange has decreased while the production of sweet orange has increased. This is an optimization of the various structures of citrus.
c) Targeting at international citrus market
With the rapid social and economic development and the continued improvement of people’s living standards, there have been significant changes in the Chinese citrus market. The requirement of commercialization of citrus has become much higher, where citrus in China is no longer just a fruit. So, citrus and its processed product consumption show rapid growth. At the same time, China’s citrus export has been on the rise. The promotion of Chinese citrus in the international market is a way to enable the Chinese citrus industry to be developed and to become mature.