Vero Beach, Fla.-based Seald Sweet International expects to receive its first Chilean clementines from the Vicuna and Ovalle districts at the end of May, said Peter Anderson, imported citrus category manager.
“The crop is earlier than normal and we expect first arrival from the Vicuna/Ovalle districts at the end of May.”
Volumes for clementines are expected to be down some because of severe drought in northern growing regions.
“(It’s) limited water supplies for not only production, but some orchards have been lost or abandoned,” Anderson said.
In the central growing districts, meanwhile, the September freezes has cut into volumes.
“In addition, the sizing in all districts will be small, likely peaking on 36s,” Anderson said. “Condition and eating quality should be excellent.”
Matt Gordon, Chilean program manager for DNE World Fruit Sales, Fort Pierce, Fla., said after a slow start, the Chilean deal should return to normal by midseason.
“Volumes will be down with small sizing for the early arrivals, and stable for the mid- to late periods,” he said. “Our plan is to be up on clems from Chile and South Africa.”
DNE expects to begin receiving fruit about May 5, 10 days earlier than last season. In mid-April, one of DNE’s shipper partners in Chile was already reporting brix readings of 11 and 12 on early clementines.
DNE plans to bring in clementines and satsumas in May, followed by navels in late June.
Another factor that should bode well for the Chilean deal this year is exchange rates, said Karen Brux, North American managing director of the Chilean Fresh Fruit Association, San Carlos, Calif.
“The current exchange rate is very positive for exports to this market,” Brux said. “Just a year ago, one U.S. dollar was the equivalent of about 470 Chilean pesos, but the U.S. dollar is now equal to 557 pesos as of April 16.”
Exchange rates will always affect to some degree where fruit is sent, but it’s just one factor, Brux said.
Overall, she said Chilean shippers and importers are looking forward to another good season.
“Chilean citrus growers continue to invest in North America because this has proven to be a strong year-round market for citrus, and with the merchandising system we have in place, we’re able to work hand in hand with retailers across the U.S. and Canada on promotions specific to Chilean citrus, whether clementines, navels or murcotts,” she said.