“The issue is that the Peruvian w. murcotts have to compete with the clemenules — the traditional Clementine variety from Chile — head on.”
Greenberg said w. murcotts tend to get a higher price largely because of their early September arrival time when there are fewer easy peelers available in the market.
“We believe we have the best offer in the market in terms of value,” said Estuardo Masias, general manager of Lima, Peru-based Prolan and part owner of La Calera, Chincha, Peru.
“Our minneolas are great and at a very good price. Our w. murcott is a little more expensive, but it’s also a prime piece of fruit to eat.”
James Milne, citrus category director for The Oppenheimer Group, Vancouver, British Columbia, said the deal has grown, especially for minneolas and w. murcotts.
“Really, it’s just a varietal thing,” he said. “They have an opportunity presented by the relatively lower volumes of South African and Australian fruit — they are filling that gap.”
Nonetheless, Ismael Benavides, former Peruvian Minister of Agriculture and general manager of the Huamani Group, Pisco, Peru, expressed concern about the large increases in production estimated by SHAFFE, the trade association that represents fresh fruit growers and exporters of the Southern Hemisphere.
“We are concerned with the large increase in production estimated by SHAFFE,” he said. “Particularly under depressed market conditions in Europe and a stagnant U.S. market.”
Tom Cowan, Peruvian program manager for DNE World Fruit Sales, Fort Pierce, Fla., said South Africa may reduce its shipments this year because of increased sales in geographically closer markets like the United Kingdom, Europe and Russia.
“Peru will be competing with Australia’s 220,000 10-kilo boxes,” Cowan of the minneola deal. “The markets are growing on summer citrus, (but) summer citrus isn’t an item that is highly featured.”
Cowan explained that the lack of supermarket promotion is due to the high volume of domestic produce including peaches, nectarines and corn, which are featured local items.
“The customer doesn’t come to the store to buy summer citrus — it’s an impulse item,” he said.
Cowan said retailers realize that summer citrus provides new gross dollars, though not in high volumes.
“It makes citrus a year-round sales item,” he said.
Cowan said this year will peak with smaller sizes in the 40- to 50-count 10-kilo box, compared to last year’s slightly larger fruit in the 30- to 40-count range. He also said most East Coast retailers will sell the fruit loose per item or in some 3-pound bags.