At the halfway point in the summer citrus season, South African Summer Citrus (www.summercitrus.com) continues in high demand across the U.S, where, to date, more than 30,000 tons of citrus have arrived.
“There are several things which have made this season strong for us,” Suhanra Conradie, chief executive officer of the Western Cape Citrus Producers Forum, said in a press release. “First, virtually all domestic citrus productswere gone from the marketplace when the first South African fruit arrived. This prepared retail stores to meet the consumer demand with South African citrus.”
South African citrus exported to the U.S. intentionally does not compete with domestic product, arriving in windows when homegrown citrus is no longer available. Another contributing element to the successful South African season thus far has been late arrivals to the U.S. of other foreign products.
“Weather is always a factor when it comes to produce,” said Conradie. “While rain delayed some of the South African vessels, other exporting countries were also impacted by weather. When other non-domestic product entered the U.S. market, demand for the South African product was well-established and has remained steady to date.”
A third factor has been the open flow of information among importers and retailers about the volumes that are arriving. “This is unique to the fruit industry,” said Conradie. “We are very detailed to assure all our partners have what they need and know when it is arriving. Combined with the reliable quality of the South African citrus products, which has been established over the years, this focused discipline results in satisfied consumers, retailers, importers — and growers!”
Conradie projected that the remainder of the season will be consistent with the beginning half, as the Midknight oranges have begun arriving in the U.S. With intense flavor and high juice content, the Midknight oranges are among the more popular of the South African citrus products.
“The Midknights are a real treat. There are a number of promotions under way with retail stores to highlight the Midknights and encourage consumers to include them in school lunches and snacks,” said Conradie. “While all the products are delicious, the Midknights are particularly good.”
The South African citrus products will be available in the U.S. through early November but not much beyond that. “With the final vessel arriving during the third week of October, we expect to complete the season before the domestic product takes hold,” said Conradie.
This is the 14th season of citrus shipments from South Africa to the U.S. and average annually approximately 40,000 tons. It comes primarily from the region near Citrusdal about two hours northwest of Cape Town, the Northern Cape near Kimberly, and the northwest along the Orange River, near Upington.
The WCCPF facilitates logistical, marketing and sales support coordination of products for its members. Its mission is to maintain and expand its role as the preferred and reliable supplier of safe summer citrus for the U.S.