Suhanra Conradie, CEO of the Western Cape Citrus Producers Forum, also expects brisk movement of South African fruit this summer, thanks in part to some help from California.
“We’re hearing from our importer partners and also from retailers that there will be strong demand for South African Summer citrus this season, particularly at the start,” she said. “We understand that domestic citrus is likely to exit markets early.”
The exchange rate always plays a role in South African citrus grower-shippers’ decisions to ship to the U.S., as do many other factors, Conradie said.
Because of the strong demand, though, it’s easily worth the effort.
“Exporting to the U.S. is costly, but the return is positive to both the U.S. and South Africa,” she said. “The program creates and supports jobs in both countries, and U.S. consumers have access to excellent citrus throughout the U.S. domestic citrus off-season.”
Efforts over the past few years to enable South African fruit to arrive in the market more quickly will bear fruit in 2014, Conradie said.
“Cold (sterilization) protocol has been reduced from 24 to 22 days,” she said. “This will enhance the shelf life of fruit.”
In addition, working closely with conventional and container lines and other service providers on both sides of the Atlantic, Conradie said, helps to ensure a cost-efficient, disciplined and continuous flow of fruit.
Forum’s promotional plans
The Western Cape Citrus Producers Forum plans to work closely with the industry’s importer partners to define promotional programs that work for retailers, Conradie said.
“In the past, POS demos coupled with recipe and meal solutions have been popular and well-received, and result in greater sales,” she said. “King Citrus will be present again in a bigger way on packaging, in stores and at various trade shows.”
In addition, the industry’s social media presence is increasing and is aligned with retail promotional programs, Conradie said.
And there’s ample room for growth.
“The idea with in-store promotions is to offer consumers a taste of our product from South Africa in order to create more demand among consumers,” she said. “Ultimately we would like to grow our program in U.S.”