South African citrus exports to North America are expected to be up this year, but importers expect no trouble moving that extra product.
“They’re approaching this year aggressively,” Kim Flores, marketing manager for Seald Sweet International Inc., Vero Beach, Fla., said of South African shippers.
The summer citrus category as a whole has gotten bigger in recent years, but demand always seem to be there to meet it, Flores said. And 2012 shouldn’t be any different.
“Each year consumer demand continues to absorb (the larger volumes),” she said.
As for the other big players in the North American summer citrus deals, South Africa has found it easy to coexist with them, Flores said.
“Your natural instinct is to compete, but I think they complement each other.”
The Western Cape Citrus Producers Forum has done an excellent of working with importers to generate retail excitement for South African citrus, Flores said.
“We work directly with them to custom-tailor programs to our retailers’ needs,” she said. “And each year growers seem to be more involved in continue to develop the category as a respected, solid category. Retailers realize it’s a great source of increased revenue.”
Grower visits to U.S. grocery stores, for example, are a great boon to Seald Sweet’s customers’ South African programs, Flores said.
“Not only do they generate excitement, but they educate consumers about the people, the growing practices and the uniqueness of the country of origin.”
Seald Sweet expects strong demand again this year for newer late-season navel and clementine varieties, Flores said.
The autumn gold and cambria navel varieties that debuted in 2011 feature bright color, high brix levels and “exceptional flavor,” Flores said. The late-season clementine variety marketed by Seald Sweet, the clemengold, may be even better.
“In my opinion, it’s the best clementine/mandarin variety worldwide,” Flores said.
Tom Cowan, South African sales manager for Fort Pierce, Fla.-based DNE World Fruit Sales, has high hopes for his company’s 2012 South African citrus program.
“We expect the summer imported citrus programs to continue to grow in volume as retailers find this category to continue to grow in sales,” Cowan said.
Marc Solomon, senior vice president for South African procurement for Montreal-based Fisher Capespan, also expects strong North American demand for South African citrus this summer and fall.