“There could be a paucity of fruit right through June and into July,” Milne said.
The possibility of either scenario coming true — and Milne’s and other importers’ unwillingness to hedge their bets one way or the other — highlighted the uncertainty hanging over the Chilean deal as late as mid-April.
The Chilean Fresh Fruit Association, San Carlos, Calif., expects to stoke demand for Chilean clementines this summer with plenty of promotional support, said Karen Brux, the group’s North American managing director.
“This year, the committee will be offering POS cards, new citrus recipes for social media outreach and promotion support that can be customized to fit the needs of different retailers,” Brux said.
“I think our organization has been every effective in supporting retail social media efforts with great photography, usage ideas and nutrition info that retailers can turn around and post on their Facebook pages and websites.”
Some big U.S. retailers have over a million Facebook followers, Brux said, which makes it an important communication channel for the committee to spread the word about Chilean citrus.
In addition, the committee’s merchandisers will work with retailers across the U.S. and Canada to successfully merchandise and promote Chilean citrus.
“We also hope to partner again with Tajin on joint demos targeting the Hispanic community,” Brux said.
Last fall, the committee partnered with the maker of Tajin seasoning, a blend of chile peppers, salt and dehydrated lime juice made by Zapopan, Mexico-based Empresas Tajin, on in-store demonstrations promoting its products in mid-September at two retail chains with Hispanic customer bases.
Anaheim, Calif.-based Northgate Gonzalez Markets, which has more than 30 stores in Southern California, was one of the participating retailers. Citrus sales doubled there as a result of the promotion, according to the committee.
The committee also will work hard this summer to keep members of the trade informed with the latest updates on Chilean citrus with regular crop reports direct from the Chilean Citrus Committee.
“We believe this will be a great tool for giving importers, wholesalers and retailers accurate, up-to-date harvest and shipping information that will enable them to make informed sales and marketing decisions.”
California will ship a couple of weeks longer than anticipated, but the market should be mostly clear by the third week of May, said Matt Gordon, Chilean program manager for DNE World Fruit Sales, Fort Pierce, Fla.
“That should allow for a strong start pricewise until South Africa and Peru arrive in early June,” Gordon said.