( Courtesy Chilean Fresh Fruit Association )

Chilean navel oranges are riding the wave of popularity the citrus category is seeing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Demand for the imported oranges has translated to “great sales momentum” in September, with week 35 (the last full week of August) shipments at almost 70,400 tons sent to North America, which is 95% of total exports for the season, according to a news release.

“Now more than ever, consumers are looking for fresh, healthy foods, and seeking out fruits that are high in Vitamin C,” Juan Enrique Ortuzar, president of the Chilean Citrus Committee, said in the release. “Navel oranges are a natural go-to.”

A Sept. 9 New York Times article on the COVID-19 pandemic’s effects on shopping declared “Orange is the new snack.”

The Chilean Citrus Committee shifted most consumer and retail promotions this season online, focusing on different uses and health benefits.

“Millions of Americans are working from home, going to school from home and cooking more meals than ever at home,” Karen Brux, managing director of the Chilean Fresh Fruit Association, said in the release. “People are looking for nutritious and convenient meal and snack ideas, so we’ve responded with some tips that will hopefully make their days just a little bit easier and healthier.”  

As Chilean orange exports to North America wind up before the end of September, mandarin exports are picking up, with double-digit growth expected this season. Mandarin promotions run through early November, according to the release.

Chilean orange harvests are nearing completion, with shipments wrapping up over the next few weeks.  As mandarin exports ramp up, retailers will be shifting their promotion focus to this category, which is anticipating double digit growth in 2020.  Mandarin promotion programs with run through early November.

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