It all comes back to quality, said Joretha Guldenhuys, chief executive officer of the Citrusdal, South Africa-based Western Cape Citrus Producers Forum.
“The quality of the South African fruit is outstanding year over year and importers, retailers and consumers know that,” she said. “Given the demand of the consumer for quality product, we have every confidence there will be ongoing and continued growth.”
That should also mean strong market conditions for South African fruit this summer, Geldenhuys said.
“Taste and quality drive demand and the excellent quality of our fruit commands good prices,” she said. “We expect to achieve similar prices to last year.”
The South African industry also is benefiting from an industrywide acceptance of all summer citrus, regardless of where it came from, Geldenhuys said.
“We recently completed market research among national and regional supermarket buyers of summer citrus, and they were unanimous in saying that summer citrus continues to be a growing category,” Geldenhuys said. “We are going to be a part of that growth.”
New competition from Chile, which last summer was given the green light to export navels to the U.S. for the first time, does not overly concern Geldenhuys.
In 2009, Chile shipped about 23,000 tons, according to the Chilean Fresh Fruit Association, Sonoma, Calif.
“We did well in 2009 and expect to continue to do well in this market this year and in coming years,” she said.
“Our navels have built up a great reputation over the more than 10 years we have been shipping to the U.S. for having excellent eating quality. This, coupled with our reputation for being a reliable shipper of superior fruit, will continue to stand us in good stead.”