U.S. response to Australian citrus 'outstanding'
Despite a challenging exchange rate and a significant overlap with competitors, Australian Navel oranges have gone very well this season in the U.S. As growers rally for domestic support during Aussie Orange Week, across the Pacific retailers too are wishing the Australian dollar would weaken so they could get more fruit.
DNE World Fruit Sales national sales manager Stu Monaghan told www.freshfruitportal.com both Australian oranges and easy peeler varieties have had an 'outstanding' response this season.
"We could have have used more than what we got this year but it was not to be. We're going to get as much as they can give us, and they are keeping their foothold in the U.S. market," he says.
"The Navel program has gone very well so far this year, and while volumes are down from last year, prices are stable and the quality is good. In the face of a late Californian navel deal and an early stage Chilean campaign, Australian navels have gone well.
"The Australian program has always done well here in the U.S. Yes, numbers are down but we knew that was going to be the case once the Chilean industry put two million cartons into the U.S."
Monaghan expects Australia to ship more than 700,000 cartons to the U.S. this season and says returns have been good in US dollar terms.
"But when you translate that into Australian dollars it's less than they need to get by. Their level of commitment to keep market share in the U.S. and to have a respectable program even though the Californians were late, and even if the Chileans shipped more than two million containers, is outstanding," he says.
"They’re high quality, they’ve got a solid orange color compared to the other two countries that ship Navels into the U.S. in the summer, they’re consistently good eating and our operations team in California does an excellent job making sure nothing but high quality gets onto trucks."
Monaghan is upbeat on Australian easy peelers and doesn't believe economic conditions could upset the course of sales for exporters.
"We have strong demand for Navels and have commitment to our programs through to October. With volumes from Australia coming in, any effect of a recession wouldn’t be noticeable," he says.
"I’d like to mention that we have other programs out of Australia that are going well. Daisy tangerines have been outstanding, minneolas have had high color and they’re great tasting as well.
"We’ll have Aussie sweet mandarins put in 3lbs (1.36kg) bags in September to compete with late clementines."
Australian citrus growers will gather around the country's national landmarks on Aug. 16 to promote orange consumption and raise awareness of their plight.
Related stories: Analysts mixed on Australian dollar prospects