South African grapefruit was almost sold out in the Japanese market by August, significantly earlier than traders expected. In addition, domestic fresh fruit supply was running low due to Japan’s record high summer temperatures. By early fall, there was a shortage of fresh grapefruit in the Japanese market. This created a great opportunity for California grapefruit growers.
In September 2010, California was able to supply Japan with a significant amount (double that of the previous season) of the ?Summer Ruby grapefruit variety and thereby mitigate Japan’s market shortage. Japanese traders expect imports of South African grapefruit will normalize by next season.
For MY2010/11 post estimates Japanese imports of South African grapefruit to increase marginally to 3.2 million cartons (including shipments from Swaziland) or 48,000 metric tons. Japan’s unusually low import volumes this past summer affected not only imports from South Africa but also imports of California ?Star Ruby grapefruit. Since this variety is typically shipped to Japan from April to June, imports of ?Star Ruby were slashed by half compared to the previous season. Nonetheless, since this decline was mostly offset by the spike in imports of California ?Summer Ruby (typically shipped during September-October).
This season total Japanese imports from California decreased by 6 percent. In MY2010/11, as summer imports go back to normal, Japanese traders expect import volumes of California varieties will do the same. That being said, while importers prefer South African grapefruits because of their competitive price, the reliability that California grapefruit supplies displayed this past summer could translate into future opportunities for the ?Summer Ruby variety.
Additionally, Texas supplies the ?Rio Star (red/ruby) grapefruit variety to the Japanese market from October through March. According to Tokyo traders, in MY2010/11 the Texas ?Rio Star grapefruit crop will likely yield high quality fruit with good flavor.