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First 2017 shipment of Chilean citrus bound for U.S. market

Chile’s first 2017 shipment of clementines to the United States departed from the port of Valparaiso during Week 15 — a week earlier than the previous season — serving as the official start of the Chilean citrus season, which runs through October.

Roughly 191 tons of clementines (12,260 boxes) are on their way to the United States, with 89 percent destined for the East Coast. This shipment includes 7,940 boxes of Oronules (121 tons) and 4,320 boxes of Clemenules (70 tons).Clementinas

Chilean clementine volume is expected to be slightly less than 2016, with around 42,000 tons of clementines exported from Chile between April and July. In 2016, 99 percent of all Chilean clementines were shipped to North America, and the same is anticipated for this season.

Clementines are just one part of Chile’s citrus offerings, which also include mandarins, lemons and navels.

In terms of timing, as clementine shipments start to wind down in July, mandarins will ramp up, with shipments concentrated in the August-September timeframe. Navel oranges will be available from June to October, with lemons boasting the longest season, from May through October. With favorable autumn temperatures and sufficient rainfall, the Chilean Citrus Committee anticipates good sizing and flavorful, juicy fruit.

While total citrus volume is expected to increase just 3 percent, to 256,000 tons in 2017 from 247,363 tons in 2016, a huge increase is once again anticipated for mandarins.

On the heels of a 22 percent volume increase in 2016, the Chilean Citrus Committee foresees another double-digit increase for Mandarins this season, jumping to 67,000 tons from 53,000 tons — a 26 percent increase over 2016. Nearly 100 percent of all Mandarins are destined for North America.

“In 2014, Chile’s mandarin volume was around 27,000 tons. Here we are in 2017, just three years later, we expect to ship 67,000 tons,” Juan Enrique Ortuzar, chairman of the Chilean Citrus Committee, said in a press release. “This growth is phenomenal, and in direct response to strong demand from our customers in North America. We believe there are still more growth opportunities, and the Chilean Citrus Committee remains committed to supporting market development.”

In 2017, the committee will expand its marketing program from the United States into Canada, working with a Toronto-based merchandiser to grow the eastern Canadian market.

The United States will remain its primary focus, and programs to promote lemons, easy-peelers and navels are currently being discussed with retailers across the country.

The Chilean Citrus Committee will launch this season’s marketing program during two May shows — the annual Canadian Produce Marketing Association convention in Toronto and the West Coast Produce Expo in Palm Springs.

With a strong social media following and a large retail dietitian network, the Citrus Committee will also engage in an extensive online marketing campaign.

“Chile is the largest exporter of navels and easy-peelers to North America, and we offer a consistently great tasting piece of fruit to retailers and their customers,” said Karen Brux, managing director of the Chilean Fresh Fruit Association. “We’re thrilled that the Chilean citrus industry is continuing to strengthen its marketing investment so we can get our citrus, whether lemons, easy-peelers or navels, into more shopping carts.”

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