Citrus exports from California are likely to be lower this year after a freeze in early December claimed a significant portion of the crop.
“We’re basically all still trying to figure out exactly how much damage we have, but there was definitely a relatively significant impact,” said Neil Galone, vice president of sales and marketing for Booth Ranches LLC, Orange Cove, Calif. However, Galone said there is still a lot of fruit to sell.
Still, in order to fulfill domestic orders, some suppliers will be exporting less citrus out of the U.S.
“It’s possible exports may see a dip this year because of the cold weather. It’s already lower than it usually has been at this point in the past, but we’ll have to see how it ends up. I think we’ll see a reduction in a percentage basis at least, with more fruit going into domestic markets as percent of the total crop,” Galone said.
In a normal year, Galone said about 20% to 25% of the crop might go into exports.
For Paramount Citrus, Los Angeles, that number is slightly higher.
“In a traditional year, we’d have about 25% to 30% going into export markets, but that will likely be a lower number this year,” said Scott Owens, vice president of sales and trade marketing.
Owens said a lot of Paramount’s fruit goes to the Pacific Rim, with a large percentage of grapefruit going to Europe. He said exports often need to fall into specific requirements.
“We have a high export demand, and those markets are typically more driven by the taste profile of fruit than by anything else. A certain size and sweetness drives those markets,” Owens said.
The freeze has caused imports to be affected as well, said Kim Flores, director of marketing for Seald Sweet, Vero Beach, Fla.
“To fulfill the demand for clementines, it has posed an opportunity for our growers in Spain and Morocco. We are increasing our imports volumes to fulfill the demand of retailers to keep clementines on the shelves for consumers,” Flores said.