Home Issue 2017-06-23 Import summer citrus season starts slow but gears up for long haul

Import summer citrus season starts slow but gears up for long haul

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Supply has been short and demand has been high for early season summer citrus from Chile, Peru, South Africa and new kid on the block Uruguay, a situation that is likely to persist into mid-July until heavy volume comes on from Peru and Chile.

“It’s off to a slow start, but it is a start nonetheless,” says AMC North America Director of Sales Casey Ison. “The early mandarin programs that are typically plentiful and, pardon the pun, fruitful from Peru and early Chilean crops have been a little short to meet the growing demand for easy peelers from US customers.

“In a season where the California crop ended early, we (importers) had all hoped for a very good start with heavy volumes and quick movement from the Southern Hemisphere crops. So far though, supply has been extremely short and demand has been higher than we have seen in the last five years.”

Casey Ison

That’s the bad news. The good news is early retail support and consumer demand has been strong for a deal that increases in size and importance every year. People forget that just 20 years ago it was hard to find citrus in U.S. supermarkets in the summertime.

“Retailers are promoting mandarins and giving them extra shelf space early on, which is also causing increased pressure on the already low supply. Many importers are starting to see volumes arriving now from not only Peru and Chile, but also Uruguay who is still rather new and unfamiliar to this market, and South African mandarins which have also been slow to start,” Ison said. “Pricing has of course been high with demand exceeding supply. We expect to see this continue through mid-July until we really get into some of the heavier volume varieties such as Tango from Peru and Clemenules from Chile.”

Import Navel oranges are starting to hit the market just about now, with the first arrivals from Chile and South Africa coming in within the last week. The first break bulk vessel from South Africa  unloaded in Philadelphia this week with an estimated 1200 pallets.

Heavy rains prevented discharge Monday and with another couple of days delay for AMS testing, pricing is still unseasonably high with large sizes being quoted at $28-$32 and 64s and smaller quoted at $24-$26. Bags will start around $26-$28 as well. Chilean volumes will increase over the next 10 days and the second South African vessel will unload just after the 4th of July holiday.

Specialty varieties are getting more attention at retail as consumers have discovered them over the past couple of summers.

“Specialty varieties are getting a lot of excitement this summer with customers looking forward to Cara Cara oranges from Chile and South Africa, Minneolas from Peru and late season Midknight Valencia oranges appropriately timed for late September/October – just in time for Halloween,” Ison said.

As the summer citrus deal grows in importance, AMC has planned a “Day of Service” in Camden, NJ in honor of Nelson Mandela International Day July 18.

“We invite all of our colleagues and industry friends to join us in celebrating Nelson Mandela International Day by dedicating 67 minutes of service on the 18th, in honor of Mr. Mandela’s 67 years of public service,” Ison said.

AMC will be donating citrus do and volunteering at a soup kitchen in Camden in honor of Mandela. The Consul General for South Africa, the Honorable Thulisile Mathula Nkosi from the US Embassy in New York will be on hand for the Mandela Day events.

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