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Chilean citrus exports expected to fall due to early freezes

“Overall, Chilean citrus exports are set to fall in 2014 due to the effects of last September’s freeze and a drought in the IV region,” Karen Brux, manager of marketing and promotions for the United States and Canada for the Chilean Fresh Fruit Association in San Carlos, CA, told The Produce News. “However, not all varieties are expected to decrease.”

Brux, who also serves as marketing director for the Chilean Avocado Importers Association, explained that global exports of Clementines are forecast to fall by 13 percent to 27,705 tons.

“Orange exports are expected to be down 9 percent to 64,130 tons, while Mandarin shipments are set to rise by 5 percent to 33,233 tons,” said Brux. “Year-to-date [June 13] Clementine exports to North America are up by more than 40 percent. Although we’re expecting an overall decline in volume, a larger volume has been shipped early to take advantage of strong market conditions in North America.”

Brux explained that Navel exports to North America grew by 176 percent between 2009 and 2013, while exports of Mandarins and Clementines increased by 110 percent.

“North America is by far Chile’s largest market for citrus,” she stressed. “In 2013, 88 percent of all Navels exported from Chile landed in North America, which commanded 98 percent of all exported Mandarins and Clementines.”

Chilean Clementines are available May through August, while Navels run from June through October and Mandarins are shipped from August through November.

Good news for Chile is that it has been spared citrus greening and citrus canker diseases. Brux said this is due to Chile’s geographic isolation and strict protocols.

Chile’s citrus fruits are shipped to both the east and west coasts of North America. Brux said that CFFA’s merchandisers are working with citrus importers and retailers to put trade promotions in place across North America.

“The Chilean Citrus Committee is committed to further developing the North American market,” she said. “To support this development it is funding retail promotions for Clementines, Navels and Mandarins. In addition to developing retail-specific promotions, we’ll also have new point-of-sale cards and new usage ideas with corresponding photography that will tie into summer parties, snacking and back to school. Finally, an e-newsletter will be sent to retail marketing staff, social media personnel and supermarket dietitians every three weeks. The goal will be to provide information and images that they can share with their customers, whether on their Facebook page, blog or even in-store.”

The majority of Chile’s citrus is sold to retailers in North America.

“That being said, since citrus is in-market during the time the Chilean Fresh Fruit Association sponsors the PMA Foodservice conference, one of the dishes prepared by our chef will feature Chilean citrus,” Brux said. “There are certainly foodservice opportunities for Chilean citrus, but this is not a focus of our marketing program.”