As supplies of domestic citrus wind down in North America for the summer, Southern Hemisphere growers in several countries are stepping in to fill the void.
Importers say ample supplies should be available from many growing areas well into the fall, and overall quality of this season’s fruit should be good.
Total citrus exports from the Southern Hemisphere should be up about 1.7% from last year, according to the Southern Hemisphere Association of Fresh Fruit Exports.
Total exports from South Africa, Argentina, Chile, Australia, Uruguay and Peru are expected to hit 2.5 million metric tons.
Oranges, the Southern Hemisphere’s largest citrus export crop, will see a 0.9% increase to 1.3 million metric tons, and soft citrus shipments will rise 18.5% to 398,000 metric tons.
Lemon exports should reach 470,000 metric tons, down 10.2%, and grapefruit exports should be around 250,000 tons, down 3%.
Economic uncertainties in the European Union may prompt Southern Hemisphere countries to continue their market diversification by exploring growing markets in Asia, the Middle East and the U.S., said Sebastian Kruse, deputy secretary general for Brussels-based SHAFFE.
Summer citrus has been an important program for Vero Beach, Fla.-based Seald Sweet International since 2000, said Mayda Sotomayor-Kirk, chief executive officer.
“We really have seen it increasing and growing,” she said.
“It has shown that it has expandable limits.”
Seald Sweet is looking forward to shipping a large volume of citrus to the U.S. this season, she said.
“We are able to bring in good quality and the right sizes,” she said.
Seald Sweet is looking for at least a 20% increase in its navel volume this summer, Sotomayor-Kirk said.
“Our supply base has grown,” she said.
Thanks to supplies from South Africa, Chile and California, the company can offer clementines year-round with few or no gaps.
DNE World Fruit Sales, Fort Pierce, Fla., exclusive marketer of Australian citrus in the U.S., should ship 750,000 cartons of navels this year, up from 500,000 last year, said Stu Monaghan, national marketing manager.
In addition, the company expects to export 75,000 cartons of daisy tangerines, 50,000 cartons of clementines, 23,000 cartons of cara cara oranges, 24,000 cartons of blood oranges and 100,000 cartons of minneolas to the U.S., Monaghan said.
Meanwhile, Sherman Oaks, Calif.-based Sunkist Growers Inc. will have star ruby and, starting in July, ruby variety grapefruit, said Julie DeWolf, director of retailer marketing.