East Coast Buyers Choosing Imported over Domestic Citrus this Year

East Coast Buyers Choosing Imported over Domestic Citrus this Year

U.S. domestic citrus shipments are down overall this year due to lack of volume out of Florida, combined with cost of truck rates from the West Coast. This has resulted in East Coast buyers turning to imports. 

The U.S. imports citrus mainly from Mexico, as well as Chile, Peru, and South Africa. In 2023, Mexico exported 1.6 billion pounds of citrus to the United States.

International Fruit Company of Hammonton, NJ reports imports are increasing from Morocco primarily due to the low costs. This year, production of Nadorcott mandarins in Morocco has increased by 20% in volume.

“The company reports if you want to ship fruit from the West to the East Coast, it can cost $10,000. However, from the East to the West, rates go down to $6,000. 

East Coast buyers are looking to Morocco, Egypt, or even South Africa because costs are much lower. 

There is a similar situation with Argentine lemons. It comes in through the East Coast at a competitive price, and it’s much cheaper to market there directly. 

East Coast imports typically will reach as far west as Texas.

There is a good supply of lemons in California at the moment, so exporters would rather send their fruit to the East Coast where prices are more competitive. 

Comparing total import volumes, the balance between what comes into the East Coast vs. the West is about 80 percent to 20 percent, company notes. 

Import volumes to the West increase only during the California off-season from around May and October.  During the season, local producers supply much of the market.