“There’s not much domestic product to speak of because of the early end to the California season. There’s not really any other easy peels so there’s good opportunity in that empty market,” Greenberg said.
There’s competition from domestic summer fruit, but Greenberg said the deal is still going well.
“Prices are high because of the scarcity of the product, but that will moderate, hopefully gently and consistently. We don’t want it to change drastically,” he said.
Greenberg said one of the pricing struggles could be finding a balance with U.S. product.
“We need a price that gets consumers to buy it over the competing summer fruit from the U.S., but we also need to match a price that will get shippers to bring the product in,” he said.
Kim Flores, marketing manager for Seald Sweet International, Vero Beach, Fla., thinks the start of the Peruvian deal will help retailers.
“The gap between California clementines and the start of the import programs has created a dip in sales revenues for retailers. Fortunately, we have an earlier start to the season this year which will allow them to regain the momentum of sales,” Flores said.
Any challenges this season should be minimal, according to industry professionals, with market competition toping the list.
“The main challenge is competition in the market place, along with increased energy costs and currency fluctuations. The U.S. dollar isn’t as strong in relation to exporting growers as it used to be,” Greenberg said.
Yunta said she doesn’t foresee any major challenges, noting that the quality issues from the previous year seem to be resolved.
“We’re prepared to handle the season and hope to have a successful operation,” she said.
“The quality issues have been solved and we don’t expect anything out of the ordinary.”
Flores is also optimistic about the coming season.
“Quality from the first arrivals has been extremely favorable with good flavor and great color,” Flores said.
Other growers and shippers agree.
“Everything looks good this year. The weather’s been good and there’s nothing to lead us to think there will be any problems,” Hanks said.
“Growers say the quality is excellent out of Peru, Miller said.
A transition to colder weather will help the color of the fruit, which will lead to good arrivals, Miller said.