DNE World Fruit Sales upbeat on citrus supply
From South African and Australian navels to Mexican lemons, Peruvian clementines to Florida grapefruit, DNE World Fruit Sales national sales manager Stu Monaghan gives www.freshfruitportal.com a wrap of recent citrus trends and his outlook for the coming season.
Supplying a steady stream of citrus fruit to U.S. consumers is no easy task, but for DNE the category has shown success this year from a variety of sourcing countries and regions.
"Everybody’s got to re-invent the wheel it seems each year to entice retailers and get them on board on the program, but I think one thing we proved this year was that it’s not necessarily about price but it’s about consistency," says Monaghan.
"Some of the retailers learned the hard way that just because something is cheaper, that doesn’t mean its better, that it's going to last longer on the shelf, that it's going to be available every week with notable volumes."
Monaghan highlights the popularity of Australian navel oranges and Peruvian clementines this year.
"With our Australian program we went to our retailers at the beginning of the season and said here’s what we’ve got; we understand Chile is going to be more affordable at times, and other times they’re going to be even priced, but if you stick with Australia we can get you great quality all season long, you won’t have a gap in supply, and that’s exactly what we’ve done.
"Australians certainly proved themselves as markedly the finest navel growers in the world, but every season is different. It really depends on mother nature and what kind of growing conditions you have.
"Peru made some great inroads this year with their clementines and they've proven themselves to be a solid supplier throughout the season - their proximity to the U.S. makes it very affordable to the U.S. consumer in terms of the final retail price."
Monaghan notes that South Africa too had a 'notable' season on the East Coast but recommends the country change its export timing strategy.
"They really had consistent quality throughout, but a suggestion might be for them not to crunch so much fruit into a smaller window.
"Everybody wins when fruit gets rotated and moves out, and if there’s too much shipped at one time it just jams up and ends up looking bad for the industry.
He adds that Mexico's lemon season, which runs from July to December, has also been impressive this year.
"It’s going really well right now. the Mexican lemon deal is a lot like we’ve talked about Peruvian clementines –they continue to get better and this year it’s very good.
"We’ve had excellent quality out of Mexico and we expect to expand that program and hopefully get a little earlier start next year, but the fruit tells you when you can start."
Monaghan says DNE will be changing its approach with Australian citrus this year to make the most of market windows.
"One thing we do expect is a little earlier start in the season. We feel it captured more of the market share in early July, and that’s beneficial for the Australian program," he says.
"We do intend to have a stronger specialty market in terms of red oranges and late season clementines, the afourers.
"With the seedless mandarins that start in late September, we would hope to grow the program and if there’s a chance to begin earlier, as long as the fruit tastes good, we’re going to focus on that."
Monaghan is also excited about the Florida citrus season, but calls for more focus on quality to improve grapefruit demand.
"We’re the largest grapefruit grower in the state of Florida and we have big plans for a strong Florida citrus season with grapefruit, tangerines and navels and juice oranges.
"We’ve just got the results from estimates for this year and we expect to have very similar numbers for grapefruit but with larger sizes - you'll see a lot of throughout November and December.
"Number one it’s got to taste better when we get to the supermarket. There's no point in rushing it to the market - we’ve got the right varieties in the ground, we just need to make sure we don’t start too early."
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