Importers and industry officials expect promotable supplies of high-quality South African citrus in 2014.
The 2014 South African citrus season should follow its usual pattern, said Suhanra Conradie, CEO of the Western Cape Citrus Producers Forum.
“The season typically begins in late June and continues through the end of October,” Conradie said. “We expect it to be the same for 2014.”
Clementines should start to arrive in the last week of May, and will be available until mid-October. Navels will follow in early June and also ship through mid-October.
Midknights will pick up the slack for navels later in the season, Conradie said, with fruit arriving in the U.S. from about late September to early November.
Cara caras should be on U.S. shelves from late June through mid-September, she said.
Conradie expects exports of clementines, navels, midknights and star ruby grapefruit from South Africa to the U.S. to be up this year.
“We are projecting an increase of 10% in our U.S. exports for 2014,” she said.
Growing weather has been good this year, and South African shippers expect to ship fruit with high brix levels, though sizing will be smaller, Conradie said.
“We do not send inferior quality to the U.S.,” she said.
DNE World Fruit Sales, Fort Pierce, Fla., expects its first container arrival of South African clementines on May 28 in Philadelphia, said Tom Cowan, South African citrus manager. About 100 pallets are expected on the first vessel, he said.
Two more containers are scheduled to arrive before the first bulk vessel docks on June 21, Cowan said. The first bulk shipment should include clementines, cara caras and grapefruit.
The second container arrival, on June 4, should include navels, Cowan said.
Both clementines and navels are arriving slightly earlier this year than last year, he said.
South African clementine, navel, cara cara and midknight volumes are expected to be up this year.
About 2.23 million cartons of navels are expected, up from 1.9 million cartons. Clementine volumes should increase from about 195,000 cartons to 275,000 cartons, cara caras from 65,000 cartons to 67,000 cartons and midknights from 433,000 cartons to 490,000 cartons.
Cool weather early in the growing season, combined with ample rainfall, is helping fruit color well, Cowan said. Overall quality and size profile also is expected to be good.
“We’re seeing higher brix and lower acids in the early clementines,” Cowan said. “The early lina navel variety should also have better color this season. And the South African clems should have bigger sizes than the Chilean clementines, peaking on 2s, 3s and 4s compared to Chile with a good portion of 4s and 5s.”
Early South African navels will lean toward 72s and 88s, perfect for bagged promotions, followed by 64s, 105s and 56s, Cowan said. Later-season navels should be larger.
Late-mandarin varieties should start in early September, followed by the midknights in late September and early October. The South African program should wind down, as usual, in early November, when the California navel season starts, Cowan said.
Marc Solomon, senior vice president for St. Laurent, Quebec-based Capespan North America, said the company expects its first arrivals of South African clementines and navels near the end of June, comparable to past years.
Capespan expects South African volumes to be up this year, said Solomon, who also expects good quality and sizing. Growers also have reported no pest or water-related concerns.
“The crop is looking very clean with very few blemishes and high internal quality, high brix,” he said. “Sizing is normal, with a good supply of large sizes in both clementines and navels.
Capespan’s 2014 South African program will include clementines, navels, cara caras, star ruby grapefruit and midknight oranges.
“This is the normal mix from South Africa,” Solomon said.
Vero Beach, Fla.-based Seald Sweet International expects its first arrivals from South Africa in early June, with volume expected by the third week of June, said category manager Gray Vinson.
“The season will start earlier than previous years.”
Seald Sweet plans to start with clementines in June, followed by navels in July, said Kim Flores, the company’s marketing director.
South Africa should have a much larger crop this year on navels, Vinson said, and clementine volumes should be slightly up from last year.
Sizing this year on navels will peak on 72s and clementines on 32s, he said.