Chilean citrus to U.S. could increase 7%

05/31/2012 03:42:00 PM
Tom Burfield

Newly planted acreage in Chile should begin bearing fruit this season, resulting in upticks in volume for navel oranges, clementines and mandarins.

Growers plan to export 32,000 tons of clementines and mandarins — 7% more than last year — with most of that volume headed to the U.S., said Tom Tjerandsen, managing director for North America for the Chilean Fresh Fruit Association, Sonoma, Calif.

Harvesting began in early May, and clementines and mandarins were expected to arrive in the U.S. by the end of May.

“Everything looks pretty normal,” Tjerandsen said, including sizing, color and brix level.

Chile expects to ship clementines and mandarins through August.

The navel deal was set to start the first week of June and continue through early October, peaking in mid-August.

Growers plan to export 70,000 tons of navels — 10% more than last year — with most destined for the U.S., Tjerandsen said.

Additional acreage was planted to keep up with increasing U.S. demand.

“As the (U.S.) dollar gets stronger, receivers are able to compete better for that finite volume,” Tjerandsen said.

The Oppenheimer Group, based in Vancouver, British Columbia, will market navels, clementines, w. murcott mandarins and a few lemons from Chile this season, said James Milne, director of marketing and citrus category director.

Growers were optimistic about quality this year, after their crops experienced a freeze last season.

“It was a pretty tough year for the citrus category out of Chile last year,” Milne said — especially navels and lemons.

Oppenheimer’s volume out of Chile should be similar to last year’s, he said.

Clementines, w. murcotts and navels will arrive in Long Beach, Calif.; Port Everglades, Fla.; and Philadelphia for DNE World Fruit Sales, Fort Pierce, Fla., said Matt Gordon, Chilean import program manager. Lemons will come into Philadelphia.

He expects to see good quality on all commodities, with sizing on the navels better than last year.

Paul Huckabay, Western citrus sales manager for Duda Farm Fresh Foods, Oviedo, Fla., expects a “good, marketable crop” with nice sizing on Chilean clementines and navels.

Before its Chilean program, Duda has a five-week satsuma deal out of Peru, which started in mid-May. The company also has a Mexican lemon program from late August through December.

Argentina

For the second year, Limoneira Co., Santa Paula, Calif., will have an Argentine lemon program to Canada through August, said Alex Teague, senior vice president and chief operating officer.

The Argentine protocol has not been cleared for U.S. lemon shipments, he said. He is hopeful that will happen someday.

The company also has a small lemon deal from Chile to the U.S. and Japan from May to August to help ensure an even, 52-week supply.

Growers were optimistic about pricing potential for Chilean citrus.

“There’s a high expectation that the opening of the clementines is going to be very strong,” Milne said.

Early prices for cartons of 10 3-pound bags could reach up to $40 or more, he said in mid-May.

“It’s expected to be very bullish because of increased demand for easy peelers in this marketplace,” he said.

California’s winter crop set the stage for Chilean clementines.

“You’ve got demand for 2- or 3-pound bags on the retailer’s shelf pretty much year-round now,” Milne said.

It will be interesting to see how long those strong prices last, he said.

Meantime, he expects a “regular seasonal price” for navels.

“There’s not as much pent-up demand for the navels as there is on the easy peelers,” Milne said.

Lemons could enjoy strong pricing because of a perceived shortage in most areas, he said.



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