Costa Rica's production of oranges is forecast to drop to 8.5 million boxes during 2012/2013 from 9 million boxes the previous crop year.
THIS REPORT CONTAINS ASSESSMENTS OF COMMODITY AND TRADE ISSUES MADE BY
USDA STAFF AND NOT NECESSARILY STATEMENTS OF OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT
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GAIN Report Number:
Orange Juice Production and Trade
Kelly Stange, Agricultural Attaché
Victor Gonzalez, Agricultural Specialist
Costa Rica's production of oranges is forecast to drop to 8.5 million boxes during 2012/2013 from 9
million boxes the previous crop year. Production is expected to rebound to 10 million boxes in
2013/2014 as new trees enter into production.
COSTA RICA: ORANGE JUICE PRODUCTION AND TRADE
Costa Rica’s orange production is concentrated in the northern part of the Alajuela province, around Los
Chiles, Guatuso and Upala, and in the northern part of Guanacaste, near the border with Nicaragua.
Two companies, Ticofrut and Del Oro, control production and processing of oranges. According to
government estimates, these two companies produce roughly 70% of the oranges produced in Costa
Rica. The rest is produced by medium and small size independent producers. Production of oranges
has also increased in Nicaragua, near the border with Costa Rica. According to the data from the Costa
Rican government, Costa Rica imported 73,296 MT of fresh oranges from Nicaragua during 2011 as
compared to 54,472 MT in 2010. The oranges from these plantations are trucked to Costa Rica for
processing. Industry estimates put area planted at around 22,000 ha. and at about 7.0 million orange
trees, including area planted on the Nicaraguan side of the border. However, the number of trees is
increasing because most growers are planting the “Flying Dragon” pattern, which allows for a higher
number of trees per hectare. The “Flying Dragon” pattern is planted at approximately 966 trees per
hectare, as compared to a range of 312 to 444 trees per hectare for other varieties. As this pattern takes
hold, the number of trees should increase in the next few years as producers replant or renovate their
farms using this variety. For instance, one large grower is renovating about 300 hectares per year with
Flying Dragon trees.
Area planted is not expected to increase substantially, primarily as a result of concern among growers
that citrus greening disease, which was identified in last year in Costa Rica, may increase production
costs or result in losses. Growers are trying to contain the disease and have established strict controls to
that effect. According to industry sources, the disease is under control and has not caused significant
losses so far. Other pests, such as the root worm, cause relatively more damage to citrus plantations in
this country. Producers have mentioned that if not for the threat of citrus greening, area planted would
probably increase. The combination of higher productivity resulting from the flying dragon pattern and
good international prices for juice concentrate make this an attractive agricultural activity. According to
producers, production conditions, both in terms of climate and soils, are very favorable on both sides of
the Costa Rica-Nicaragua border. Also, a new dirt road built on the Costa Rican side of the border with
Nicaragua may create opportunities for new area planted in oranges in the future.
Although accurate production data is not available from government or industry sources, orange
production in 2011/2012 reached an estimated 9 million boxes (40.824 kg.). Production is forecast to
decline to about 8.5 million boxes during 2012/2013 as a result of cyclical conditions (the 2011/2012
crop was a very good crop in general). Industry sources expect total production to increase to 10.0
million boxes in 2013/2014 as new trees come into production. As mentioned before, the new Dragon
Fly pattern allows planting more than twice the number of trees of the varieties currently planted. This
variety also allows producers to reduce cultural practices. These factors are expected to result in higher
yields in the future.
Costa Rica exports the majority of its orange production as frozen orange juice concentrate, but also
exports non frozen concentrate juice. According to information from the Costa Rican Trade Promotion
Board (PROCOMER), during calendar year 2011, juice exports to all destinations amounted to 43,850
MT valued at $55.3 million. Data available for 2012 (for January-October), indicate that export value
had reached $52.3 million, while volume amounted to 24,139 MT.
The United States was Costa Rica’s main destination for orange juice exports in 2011 and 2012.
Exports to the U.S. reached 16,662 MT in 2011, valued at $37.3 million, and 16,614 MT valued at
$35.8 million during the period January-October 2012. Other important destinations include the
Netherlands, China, Central America and the Caribbean.
Costa Rican orange juice enters the United States duty free under the CAFTA – DR.