U.S. clementine oversupply headaches "avoidable"

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U.S. clementine oversupply headaches "avoidable"

Southern Hemisphere clementine exporters could have prevented U.S. prices from nosediving with better planning, communication and marketing, claims a leading distributor.

Seald Sweet International chief executive officer Mayda Sotomayor, said U.S. clementine supply was 30% higher this season but the market was big enough to absorb large volumes.

"It had a lot to do with the fact that the product was not being promoted. It's not the fault of the retailers, it's about better planning, knowing when the volume is coming in and better communications with supplers to have a flow through to the consumers in a consistent way."

She said promotions of cantaloupes, honeydew melons and stonefruit had taken precedence over clementines in U.S. supermarkets.

South Africa shipped more fruit to the U.S. than normal due to Europe's economic crisis while Chilean supply was over a shorter period, resulting in both countries peaking at the same time in late June and early July.

Fisher Capespan senior vice-president of marketing and sales Paul Marier, agreed this year's clementine season had been particularly difficult.

"The market got stuffed up pretty good and that translated to low prices and people sitting on stock for longer; therein lies the problems with decay and significant losses on re-bagging."

Sotomayor added now that clementines have started to be publicized more, the situation had changed completely with higher demand and recovering prices.

She said there should be better communication within the industry to avoid the same thing happening in future seasons.

"If the market had prepared itself for this, volumes could have flowed and there would have been less damage to the price."

Marier said prices for clementines at the moment were US$6-8 lower than the previous year at around US$22-25 per 30lb box. Sotomayor said during the peak moment of supply prices fell below this level.

Pack-up percentages were also lower due to clementine stocks being held for longer before sale, resulting in higher decay levels.

Late maturing mandarins are not expected to suffer the same challenges as U.S. demand is predicted to pick up from next week as families prepare for children returning to school.

Marier said pupils' lunch boxes would typically include either a clementine or mandarin fuelling market demand. He's expecting prices per 30lb box to recover to around US$32 within the next few weeks.

Related stories: Chilean clementines approaching "rapid" finish,  U.S. importers claim


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