Importers expect strong demand for Chilean clementines, especially early in the deal.
A combination of factors should lead to brisk movement at the outset of the Chilean clementine deal, said Mark Greenberg, president and chief executive officer of Capespan North America LLC, St. Laurent, Quebec.
“Demand at the start of the season is expected to be strong due to the early end of the domestic citrus season,” Greenberg said.
“Supply will not be enough to meet demand, and growers will be expecting high prices for their products.”
Peruvian clementines and a few satsumas will be available in May and June to help fill the pipeline, Greenberg said. Chilean clems should dominate the market in June, then share the market with South Africa in July.
Peter Anderson, imported citrus category manager for Vero Beach, Fla.-based Seald Sweet International, also expects strong markets.
“Demand will be good for initial arrivals, and demand will continue for clementines throughout their production period,” Anderson said.
Seald Sweet will help stoke demand with promotions tilted toward the latter end of the deal, said Kim Flores, the company’s marketing director.
“We’re promoting summer citrus programs in general, but also we will be heavily promoting our later variety mandarin and clementine varieties,” she said.
“These are the ‘creme de la creme’ of this category.”
The smaller size profile of this year’s crop will provide ample opportunities for promoting bag programs, Flores added.
A mid- to late May start to container arrivals of clementines from several Chilean growing areas is fairly typical, said James Milne, citrus category director for Vancouver, British Columbia-based The Oppenheimer Group.
What’s far from typical in the 2014 season is the expected significant damage from severe freezes early in the growing season — and what affect they will have on demand.
“We’re still a bit concerned,” Milne said. “It will be a very robust market.”
“Robust” can of course be a good thing in many cases, but when prices get too high, shippers worry about movement stagnating as a consequence.
“Inventories could build throughout the month” because of retailers being scared away by high prices, Milne said.
He said there’s also the chance that, depending on how the freezes cut into volumes, there won’t be enough fruit for inventories to build, regardless of price.