The impact of the recession on Chilean clementines has been minimal, and growers have turned to increasing varieties to meet strong U.S. demand.
“The recession really did not have a dramatic effect on the products we sold last year,” said Mark Greenberg, vice president of procurement for Fisher Capespan USA LLC, Gloucester City, N.J. “There is a place for every kind of fruit on retailer shelves. Retailers want to present to their customers the full range of fruit.”
Greenberg said he thinks clementines are a product retailers need to have and there were reasonable values for growers and consumers last year.
“Retailers are discovering that there are strong sales for summer citrus across the country,” agreed Mark Hanks, vice president of sales and marketing for DNE World Fruit Sales, Fort Pierce, Fla.
Matt Gordon, Chilean program manager at DNE, added that the record volume and price stability of last summer was “remarkable in a soft economy.”
James Milne, citrus category director for The Oppenheimer Group, Vancouver, British Columbia, said in a tight economy, the 2- and 3-pound bagged clementines provide an affordable and convenient option for health-conscious shoppers.
“They represent good value because they last well, and they are high in vitamin C and other nutrients,” he said. “Clementines in this pack-style have performed well despite the recessionary conditions.”
Milne said Oppenheimer is striving to balance consumer demand and grower returns.
Manuel Jose Alcaino, president of Decofrut, a Santiago, Chile, said that last summer at the height of the recession, clementines were still received well.
“In general, the interest has created a demand, the volumes have increased and the prices have risen,” he said.
Joe Berberian, sales manager for Bee Sweet Citrus Inc., Fowler, Calif., said the difference this year will be in what prices can be obtained at the retail level.
“I don’t think selling clementines for $6.50 for a 5-pound box is going to happen this year,” he said, despite acknowledging fairly good movement last year. “I think it’s going to be tough to get high dollar for it.”
David Mixon, chief marketing officer for Seald Sweet, Vero Beach, Fla. disagreed, saying he saw no major reason for “any huge increase or decrease in price.”
“There are the same type of opportunities of volume and pricing with the knowledge that we are still in a recession,” he said. “It is not going to be a better year than we would hope it would or could be with this economy.”
Paul Marier, vice president of sales and marketing in Montreal for Fisher Capespan, Saint-Laurent, Quebec, considers clementines a staple item and said most of the chain stores he visited saw positive or flat growth.