Australian citrus producers nationwide have reported good growing conditions, with summer heat that promoted higher sugars and lower acidity, said Andrew Harty, market development manager, and Nathan Hancock, manager of market information and quality, both of Citrus Australia Ltd., Queensland.
Navels are running about one size down from last season, peaking at 72 and 88. But there won’t be a shortage of the larger-sized 56s for the U.S. program, they said in an e-mail.
Afourer tangor, a close relative of the mandarin, is peaking between 64-88, which is an ideal size for the U.S. market, Harty and Hancock said. Overall, growers down under expect a similar-sized orange program as last year — about 550 40-foot containers, with about 95% of those being navels. Included will be the new navel variety M7 and cara cara navel.
Southern hemisphere citrus faces heavy competition from other summer fruit, such as stone fruit, grapes, melons and apples. So Hearl said it’s important for retailers to be well informed of promotional opportunities. They also should advertise citrus regularly to keep it front of mind with consumers and create themed ads, such as back to school in August.
Point-of-sale materials and in-store sampling can be used to help educate consumers about imported citrus, she said.