Stricter import regulations on South African citrus shipping to Europe will have little if any effect on citrus exports to the U.S., officials said.
On May 27, European Union member states imposed new regulations on South African citrus over fears of the introduction of citrus black spot into Europe.
Citrus black spot, or CBS, is a harmful plant disease that is not native to Europe.
Under the new regulations, South African citrus shipping to Europe will be subject to new measures including recording pre- and post-harvest chemical treatments; mandatory registration of packing houses; inspections of citrus orchards; and beefed-up testing protocols.
The new measures will not, however, convince South African shippers to send fruit to the U.S. that formerly was targeted for Europe, said Piet Smit, one of the founding members of the Citrusdal, South Africa-based Western Cape Citrus Producers Forum.
“The short answer is no,” Smit said. “CBS fruit is not allowed into the U.S. at all, and the areas that are allowed into the U.S., because of CBS-free status, remain the same.”
South Africa’s Northern and Western Cape regions are allowed to ship citrus to the U.S.
Nor will the EU ruling likely lead to Chilean citrus shippers diverting large volumes of fruit intended for the U.S. to Europe, in hopes of taking advantage of the new hurdles South Africa faces there, said Karen Brux, managing director of the San Carlos, Calif.-based Chilean Fresh Fruit Association.
“Chile is certainly looking at what can be done to replicate the success of North America in other markets and expand the reach of Chilean Citrus, but North America is the only market where the Chilean Citrus Committee is investing substantial resources in marketing the fruit,” Brux said. “North America is, by far, the largest market for Chilean citrus.”