Volumes of high-quality Spanish and California clementines are expected to be up this winter.
Yonkers, N.Y.-based Jac Vandenberg Inc. plans to ship Chilean murcotts up to the first week of November, around the time its first shipment of Spanish clementines arrives, said Michael Schiro, Vandenberg’s berry and clementine category manager.
“The transition should be perfect,” he said.
The strong demand for Chilean fruit should continue for early Spanish varieties, Schiro said.
“Demand for murcotts has been excellent. We’re basically sold out,” he said.
“Clementines are becoming the candy of the citrus category. They’re easy to peel, they taste great and they’re virtually seedless.”
On Oct. 16, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of $34-36 for cartons of 15 2-pound mesh bags of clementines 15-32s from Chile, comparable to last year at the same time.
In California, satsumas are expected to begin shipping by the week of Oct. 29, said Bob Blakely, director of industry relations for California Citrus Mutual, Exeter.
California-grown clementines are expected to start shipping in November and murcotts in early January, Blakely said.
If clementines follow the lead of the state’s navel crop, they could arrive 10 days to two weeks ahead of normal, he said.
Clementine volumes could be up 10% to 15%, thanks to heavy sets and a large size profile, Blakely said.
A combination of new acreage, heavy sets and big sizes could push murcott volumes up 20%, he said.
Vandenberg expects to ship about 4 million boxes of Spanish clementines this season, 7% to 8% more than last season, Schiro said. Supplies should last through January.
Because of high demand, the company also plans to import clementines from Morocco for the first time, Schiro said. Most fruit will be of the clemenule variety and will begin shipping in mid-November.
Vandenberg will bring in modest volumes in its first year in the deal, Schiro said.
Rain in the first half of October was a boon for Spanish growers, Schiro said.
“They’ve had good growing conditions,” he said.
“The expectations are it will eat well and look vibrant from a color standpoint.”
Early California navels have been eating well, which bodes well for the state’s clementines, Blakely said.
Spanish clemenule volumes should start to peak in the second half of December, just in time for Christmas and other winter holiday promotions, Schiro said.
Vandenberg will ship in 5-pound boxes only at the beginning of the season, then add 3-pound bags in about the third week of November, Schiro said.
Both sizes are popular with consumers, and help explain the category’s growth, he said.