SA: Midknight oranges generate strong U.S. demand

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SA: Midknight oranges generate strong U.S. demand

South Africa's citrus exports to the U.S. went well despite a one-week delay in delivering the Midknight orange variety, according to the Western Cape Citrus Producers Forum (WCCPF).

Chief executive officer Suhanra Conradie, said the Forum's clementines and navels oranges were popular with punters.

"The market was clamouring for them but we wouldn't send any of them unless they were the best. They stayed on the trees a little bittle later until they reached a certain internal juiciness acceptable for the U.S. market which has very high standards."

She said the marketing strategy of growers' visits to stores offering free sampling and information about how to cut and prepare the fruit was a success.

"We had representatives who were there when the oranges first arrived through to the end of the season last month. Our visibility and awareness of South African summer citrus continues to increase in the U.S."

Conradie said the industry was continually learning how to do things better and to satisfy the demanding U.S. market.

"The key in the U.S. is to listen to importers, retailers and consumers. We know that a good quality product will drive sales."

This season WCCPF shipped 40,000 metric tons (MT) of oranges to the U.S. of which 600,000 cartons were Midknight oranges.

She said the industry should have a clearer picture about future export volumes by next March when it starts planning for the next season which kicks off in late May.

Since 1999 shipments of clementines, oranges and grapefruits to the U.S. have increased from 50 MT to the current 40,000.

Related stories: SA Midknight oranges arrive in the U.S.

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Photo: WCCPF

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