Florida citrus gets started a little early - The Packer

Florida citrus gets started a little early

11/16/2012 09:32:00 AM
Doug Ohlemeier

VERO BEACH, Fla. — The 2012-13 Florida citrus season opened with higher grapefruit, orange and tangerine volume. However, the state expects a 17% drop in navel production, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Oct. 11 first-season forecast.

Despite the smaller navel volume, buyers should expect strong promotions for Florida citrus, said Kevin Swords, Florida citrus sales manager for DNE World Fruit Sales, Fort Pierce.

“We have had a very good start to the season,” he said. “Our customers are doing a lot of good promotions on fallglos and navels. We have even done some isolated grapefruit promotions. It has been a strong start dodging some of the weather we’ve had here and there.”

Growers in the Dundee Citrus Growers Association began harvesting fallglo tangerines and navels in mid-September.

Enough for retailers to promote

Al Finch, vice president of sales and marketing for Dundee-based Florida Classic Growers, Dundee’s marketing arm, said the volume should make for strong retail promotions.

“There has been good demand for tangerines, navels and the juicing oranges,” Finch said. “Red grapefruit also continues to be in demand. Overall appearance and eating quality are excellent this year. We have found retailers have been very anxious to get started in Florida citrus this season. Indications are from lots of our retail groups, the imported summer citrus program didn’t go as well as planned. Many were ready to get started into Florida citrus.”

Dundee began transitioning from the early fallglo tangerines to the sunburst variety in late October.

Consistent volume likely

Dave Brocksmith, Florida program manager for Seald Sweet International, said the season began a week or two earlier than normal. The deal should bring more consistent volume, he said.

“There will be less competitive pressure from the juice processors, so we will have more fruit to be utilized in fresh pack” he said in late October. “The buyers should be looking for nice volumes to promote. We have more and very promotable volumes this year that we didn’t have last year across the board.”

On grapefruit, growers saw a typical season start, said Matt Reel, director of sales for IMG Citrus Inc.

IMG began harvesting in late September.

“We started faster than usual because the market was empty when we started,” Reel said in early November. “Quality is good and, the eating quality is just getting better as each peak passes.”

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