Exchange rates, fuel costs put citrus imports up for grabs

06/02/2011 01:58:00 PM
Dan Gailbraith

In May the Southern Hemisphere Association of Fresh Fruit Exporters issued its summer citrus forecast for exporting countries.

Among the findings:

Australia will rebound from a tough 2010 with an 18.5% gain in the category, to 600,000 tons, according to the association. That returns production back to 2009 levels. Picking was expected to be slightly delayed but size was likely to remain medium overall. The association predicted a good market outlook for Asia-bound exports.

South Africa’s volume for the category will be down 5% year-over-year at 2,157,000 tons. Orange exports will drop 10%, but are still high compared to long-term trends, according to the exporters group. Limited growth was forecast in other citrus commodities.

“They’ve had some cold weather in the early areas,” said Marier, who pegged South Africa’s navel decline at up to 15%.

“The fruit looks clean so the packout should be good. That will help counter the shortfall a bit.”

First arrivals in the U.S. of South African citrus are expected in late June and usually go into October.

“The European market is looking attractive so they may direct a fair amount of fruit there,” Marier said.

“The United Kingdom chains have really been coming on gangbusters.”

Fisher Capespan has high hopes for its South Africa grapefruit, though the program remains in its early stages.

“We had trial volumes last year,” Marier said.

“Buyers loved the fruit but were on California. We’re getting much better feedback. They’ve had a year to think about it and they’ve seen a few pallets of fruit. We’re bullish on that.”

This summer Fisher Capespan plans to bring, at most, 50,000 cases of the grapefruit to market.

“It’s still a novelty item,” Marier said. “We’re doing it slowly. It could grow quite a bit in a couple years.”


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