Production of late summer mandarins from Chile continues to grow along with strong consumer demand.
This season, Chile expects to surpass the 100,000-ton milestone on mandarin exports, with nearly 100% of the fruit headed to U.S. ports.
Mandarin season typically starts in mid-July with a peak around Labor Day, but this season is running a little behind schedule.
Peter Anderson, New Jersey-based category manager for Seald Sweet International, said rains have interrupted harvest a few times this winter, so the season is normal to 10 days behind schedule, which compares to a slightly earlier season the past two years.
Miles Fraser-Jones, director of global business development for the New Jersey office of Seven Seas, a subsidiary of Tom Lange Cos., also said he’s seeing supplies about a week later than normal, but volume is strong.
“We are expecting a marked increase on last year’s arrivals — to date we have seen an increase of 25% over last year’s figures,” he said.
“We are aware that there was some adverse weather in Chile, which may impact on the arrival quality, but we will have to wait and see if this is a problem.”
Karen Brux, managing director of the Chilean Fresh Fruit Association, San Carlos, Calif., said summer citrus from Chile continues to grow.
“For mandarins specifically, large marketing campaigns during the domestic season have certainly contributed to increased consumption throughout the year, and Chile has responded by growing more early season clementines (May-August) and late season mandarins (August–early November) to satisfy this demand,” she said.
“Chile dominates the summer market for mandarins, and the trade look to us when the domestic season comes to a close.”
According to the Chilean Fruit Exporters Association’s citrus committee, altogether, Chilean citrus categories should export 317,000 tons of citrus this season.
For lemons, it projects 77,000 tons; navel oranges 84,000 tons; clementines 55,000 tons; and mandarins 101,000 tons, which is lower than the May estimate.
Chilean clementines started strong in the spring and by the end of June were up 48% over last year at the same time, according to ASOEX.
The U.S. was by far the top destination of the fruit with nearly 100% of the shipments going here. According to the group, 57% of the shipments arrived on the East Coast and 43% on the West Coast.
Nearly three-quarters of the expected crop had been shipped by the end of June, with supplies dropping steadily through July.
Anderson said Chilean clementines had a stronger start to the season on the heels of an early finish to California murcotts.
Anderson said he expects a normal finish to the season.
“Last arrivals of both murcotts and navel oranges takes place in the last weeks of October, with most inventories shipped from USA cold storages by Nov. 1, when California supplies of navels and clementines become available,” Anderson said.
In May, the U.S. Department of Agriculture allowed imports of Chilean lemons without requiring methyl bromide fumigation for pests.
Previously, Chilean lemons were allowed into the U.S. only after they were treated with methyl bromide.
“The recent approval of ‘systems approach’ for Chilean lemons is great news for the North American market,” Brux said.
“With systems approach, the cold chain will remain intact, so our lemons will arrive to the U.S. in the best possible condition. This is significant for both exporters and their customers, who will now be able to rely more than ever on the consistently high quality of Chilean lemons.”
In 2017, Chile exported 55% of its lemon crop to North America.
Brux said the Chilean navel crop should be 11% larger than last year at 84,000 tons. Chile exports more than 90% of its navel crop to North America.