South African easy peelers selling for less in the U.K. this season

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South African easy peelers selling for less in the U.K. this season

South African soft citrus sales have been depressed by 10-20% year-on-year in the U.K. this season, with some growers reporting slightly smaller sized fruit and a week's delay.

Capespan commercial citrus manager John Taillard, said low prices were mainly due to the economy and consumers having more options to choose other fruit.

"We are in for a challenging season. We are trying to spread the risk," he said.

"Although the U.K. is still very important to us, Russia is becoming important too and the Middle East is showing its ability to move things while Hong Kong and mainland China are good for mandarins."

Everseason marketing manager Stiaan Engelbrecht, agreed U.K. prices were under pressure but was optimistic about the current season which kicked off last month with satsuma exports.

"Personally, I think the prices last season were too high and we didn't get the movement we would have liked. "

He said soft citrus prices this season are between 10-15% lower, which he described as more "realistic".

"The thing which is really killing us is fuel prices for freight which are 33% higher than last year."

Despite smaller fruit sizes Engelbrecht said he was happy with the overall quality of the fruit, describing it as a good crop.

Colors Fruit marketing manager for citrus Nico Veldsman, said the quality this season was better than last and a lower exchange rate put South Africa in a good position.

"Clementines are just starting and they are looking very positive. The Californian market is short of clementines and we will have the opportunity to sell to the U.S. and Canada."

Although, he admitted the size of clementines this season was smaller, particularly in the Western Cape, making it more difficult to sell to retailers.

Satsuma export volumes have already hit the 1 million mark for 15 kg cartons with total soft citrus exports expected to show an 11% year-on-year rise reaching 7.6 million cartons, according to the Citrus Growers Association (CGA).

Lemons are expected to fetch strong prices with high demand from the Middle East, Far East, Russia and Europe due to Argentina's poor quality of fruit last year.

"Lemons are flying, the prices are better, 5-10% up, and the market is very strong," said Veldsman.

However, growers are reporting difficulties shifting grapefruits because of very small-sized fruit this season.

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