Imports of Southern Hemisphere citrus continues to increase as American consumers are becoming more accustomed to purchasing citrus year-round. Improving quality and taste are cited as factors.
As navel oranges, minneolas and clementines experience increasing volume from the Southern Hemisphere, it opens up the window for more sales of citrus.
Seedless easy peelers such as Murcotts, and the mandarin varieties continue to be the most popular items in produce departments. Imported citrus primarily arrives at three major ports in the West (Long Beach), Southeast (Florida) and Northeast (Philadelphia), reducing logistic and distribution costs.
Chile’s first shipment of Navels to the U.S. — comprising 7,960 boxes arrived in early June, a earlier than in 2015.
Importers are very optimistic for the season ahead. Total global citrus exports from Chile (Navels, easy peelers and lemons) rose by 30 percent last year, and estimates are that volume is expected to climb another 10 percent in 2016. While the largest increase is expected for easy peelers, projected Navel volumes are also slightly higher than 2016, 68,261 tons compared to 67,644 tons in 2015.
Easy peelers are clearly the up and comers in citrus, because not only are they a great-tasting, but are convenient to eat.
Though just 9.9 percent of the citrus volume sold, Mandarins represented 36.4 percent of dollar sales in the U.S. retail market for the year September 2014 to September 2015. By comparison, oranges, which form 30 percent of the category volume, represented a lesser share — 29.2 percent — of the overall spent.
Through early June, Chilean citrus exports were at 25,906 tons (just over 1.6 million boxes), 80 percent of which were destined for the U.S. Exports to the U.S. market through early June included 121 tons of Navels, 14,069 tons of clementines and 6,349 tons of lemons.
The period June-August is the primary season for Chilean lemons. Of all the lemons entering the U.S. from the Southern Hemisphere, Chile had an astounding 95 percent market share last year, shipping nearly 34,000 tons to the U.S. This year, Chile’s exports of lemons totaled 20,372 tons by mid June, up 104 percent from last season. Out of this volume, 55 percent were destined for North America,
YTD volume shipped to the North American market is 119 percent greater than the same time in 2015. Despite the initial increase in volume shipped to this market, it is expected to slow down, as the total forecast of 60,000 tons is four percent less than last year’s volume of 62,196 tons.
Peru shipments are expected to start arriving the first week of July.
California citrus is nearly finished, opening the door for imports that will last from from July well into October.
South African clementines, Cara Caras and other varieties were beginning to arrive at U.S. ports. However, while South African citrus exports were running early and had good volumes, the total imported this season could be less than in previous years due to weather conditions.