Citrus imports from Mexico are increasing. ( File Photo )

Citrus is a growing category for companies importing produce from Mexico.

A couple of industry members in Arizona had that impression, and numbers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture back them up.

Orange exports from Mexico are projected to rise nearly 7% as more fruit is expected to go to the U.S., according to the Citrus: World Markets and Trade report that the USDA’s Foreign Agriculture Service released in January.

Fresh orange exports from Mexico have been climbing for several years, from 44,000 metric tons in the 2014-15 season to 56,000 in 2015-16 to 75,000 in 2016-17. The estimate for the 2017-18 season is 80,000 metric tons.

Over the same span of time, U.S. imports of fresh oranges have been increasing, from 155,000 metric tons in the 2014-15 season to 164,000 in 2015-16 to 182,000 in 2016-17. The projection for the 2017-18 season is 200,000 metric tons.

Those numbers do not reflect trade between the two nations exclusively, but the Foreign Agriculture Service noted in another report — this one an annual review of citrus production in Mexico, released in December — that nearly all of Mexico’s fresh orange exports go to the U.S.

Most of those are navels grown in Sonora, though Nuevo Leon has also increased exports to the U.S., according to that report.

One boost for Mexican orange exports to the U.S. this year could be a lower-than-usual amount domestic product, with damage done to the Florida industry by Hurricane Irma and “unfavorable hot weather reducing the crop in California,” according to the January report.

Lime exports from Mexico are also projected to rise, with production jumping by 80,000 tons to a record 2.6 million tons.