Peru has found its niche in late-season varieties like minneolas and w. murcotts, but growers are working to improve quality on early season varieties as well.
“We see a lot of potential in the U.S. market,” said Estuardo Masias, general manager of Lima, Peru-based Prolan and part owner of La Calera, Chincha, Peru.
“The per capita consumption during the summer is a fraction of what it is in the United Kingdom or Canada, so we believe there is a lot of room for growth.”
Paul Marier, vice president of sales and marketing for Cape Town, South Africa-based Fisher Capespan said the company plans to expand its Peruvian citrus deal considerably this year.
“It is very clear to me that, with rare exception, customers will take from all countries of origin,” Marier said.
“That’s why I say it’s really important to have all countries of origin if you are really going to provide to major retailers.”
Marier said some customers prefer Peruvian minneolas or the color of Chilean navels or the internal quality of South African citrus, but overall the key is to have year-round citrus availability.
Clementines, satsumas, navels
James Milne, citrus category director for The Oppenheimer Group, Vancouver, British Columbia, said citrus is a fairly stagnant category, but the easy-peeler sub-category including clementines and satsumas has seen “quite strong growth.”
Although minneolas are the highest demanded Peruvian citrus product in the U.S. market right now, David Mixon, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for Seald Sweet International, Vero Beach, Fla., said there is a window that permits Peru’s clementines to enter the market at the same time as the early Chilean variety.
“The combination of Peru’s early clementines and Chile’s early clementines is by no means an oversupply situation,” Mixon said of the potential overlap in June.
“We have a huge market built on the clementines,” said Tom Cowan, Peruvian program manager for DNE World Fruit Sales, Fort Pierce, Fla.
Cowan said sourcing from Peru, Chile and South Africa has increased clementine imports from 4 million 5-pound cartons about five years ago to about 17 million industrywide.
Cowan also said satsumas, which are popular in Canada and the U.K., could be a more competitive product in the U.S. with consumer education.
“The biggest problem that we see is really the external color on them,” he said. “The brix for the ones we have on the market are close to 10, and ... that’s pretty good for satsumas. It’s not a real accepted fruit in the U.S.”