Chilean mandarin growers expect to ship a record 101,000 tons of fruit to North America this season. ( Courtesy Chilean Citrus Committee )

It’s Chilean mandarin season.

The first shipments of this year’s fruit set off for the U.S. and Canada the week of July 9, according to a news release from the Chilean Citrus Committee, with 64 tons bound for the East Coast and 21 tons for Canada.

Although this season got off to a slower start than last year, Chile expects to ship a record 101,000 tons of mandarins to North America this year, a 32% increase from 2017, according to the release.

“Growth in the mandarin category has been incredible,” Chilean Citrus Committee chairman Juan Enrique Ortuzar said in the release.

“Just six years ago in 2012 we exported 22,000 tons of mandarins and now we expect exports to surpass 100,000 tons. Our industry made a strong commitment to developing the mandarin category and it has resulted in Chile becoming the main supplier of easy peelers to North America,” he said.

Citrus committee manager Monserrat Valenzuela said in the release than an improved water situation in Chile has contributed to the mandarin industry’s growth.

The Chilean Citrus Committee plans retail promos from August through October, according to the release, with support materials available for merchandisers including digital coupons, display contests, point-of-sale materials, images and videos, according to the release.

The committee expects promotable volumes of the fruit to be available in the U.S. and Canada through October.