(Adds comments from CitrusBR director)
SAO PAULO Feb 13 Brazilian orange juice
producers ended 2016 with the lowest level of stocks on record,
as sagging processing yields and a smaller crop reduced output
in the world's largest exporter.
Orange juice stocks (frozen, concentrated equivalent) fell
to 497,383 tonnes at the end of December, compared with 728,865
tonnes at the same time a year earlier, industry group CitrusBR
said in a report on Monday.
That is the smallest level since readings started in 2000.
CitrusBR projects the stocks will continue to drop until the
next crop (2017/18) starts in July.
The industry group said frozen, concentrated orange juice
(Fcoj) stocks at the end of the crop year on June 30 are
projected at 70,290 tonnes, or enough for three weeks of sales.
"I am not sure how this will impact the day-to-day
operations of the companies," said Ibiapaba Neto, executive
director of CitrusBR.
Brazil is facing two consecutive small orange crops. The
current season is projected to be the smallest in 28 years, with
244 million boxes - each box is 40.8 kg (90 lbs) - compared to
300 million boxes for the previous crop.
Neto says the quality of the crop is also a problem, largely
due to a change in the location of fruit farms to areas where
rain is more abundant in the last 10 to 15 years. As a result,
oranges have more water and less juice.
"We are using more oranges to produce a tonne of
concentrated juice," he said.
Processors used on average 288 boxes of oranges to produce a
tonne of Fcoj in the current crop compared with the multi-year
average yield of 250 boxes to make a tonne of juice.
Fcoj prices in New York hit an all-time high late
last year. Despite a recent decline juice is still trading at
the highest values in five years.
Brazil supplies 80 percent of the global orange juice
(Reporting by Marcelo Teixeira; Editing by W Simon and Paul