Chile to up the ante for 2012 citrus export campaign
The Chilean Citrus Committee has started a ripening program to complement its marketing push into the U.S. and South Korean markets this season.
Committee president Juan Enrique Ortúzar tells www.freshfruitportal.com the quality this year is 'very good' and there have been no frosts to date.
He says the industry was committed to ensuring "all oranges destined for the export market are of very good quality internally and externally, in a way that can compete favorably with Australian and South African navels".
"Buyers have formed a high opinion based on product received last season from Chile, and it's essential that we comply with the expectations that American buyers have for Chilean oranges.
Currently around 85% of Chilean citrus exports come from the committee with nine new members joining up this season.
Ortúzar says growers and exporters need to maintain efforts to improve fruit quality and condition if they are to ensure sustained export growth.
This was a key driver for the implementation of Chile's Orange Ripening Verification Program (PMN), designed for fruit destied for the U.S. and South Korean markets.
Chile's Fruit Development Foundation (FDF) will be the certifying organization and started work on Jun. 11, with plans to continue until Aug. 30. The foundation will conduct weekly visits to the packing plants of committee members, inspecting fruit that is set for export to these two markets.
Companies will need to have fruit that has soluble solids of 9.6° Brix or more, as well as favorable acidity levels.
Ortuzar adds the certification will apply to fruit that has already been packed. Fruit that does not meet the correct parameters must be sent to other markets, or saved until acidity levels reach levels within the norm.
He says the South Korean campaign will be focused on consumers with tastings expected to begin in supermarket's in a month.
In the U.S., importers, distributors and retail chains will be the publicity focus this year, with the aim of disseminating messages about the characteristics and availability of Chilean oranges during the Northern Hemisphere summer.
For that reason Ortuzar says it is vital to attend regional fairs, distribute promotional material and to develop mounting shelf competitions.
As part of the campaign, supermarket representatives were in Chile last week visiting orchards and packinghouses to learn more about the country's citrus industry.
The country's citrus exports are expected to rise by 10% this year to 168,000 metric tons (MT), with navel orange shipments rising by the same percentage to 69,000MT.
In 2011, oranges were the leading citrus export with a share of 39.8%, followed by easy peelers at 29.8%, lemons (29.6%) and grapefruit (0.8%).
In 2012, W. Murcott mandarin shipments are set to rise by 35% to 19,000MT, while clementine shipments should rise by 5% to 34,000MT. Meanwhile, lemons are expected to stay stable at 45,866MT.
Last year the U.S. accounted for 70% of exports and this share is expected to rise this year.