South African citrus exporters see continued U.S. Midwest expansion

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South African citrus exporters see continued U.S. Midwest expansion

The Western Cape Citrus Producers Forum (WCCPF) plans to keep growing its market in the U.S. interior, built on a well-established program on the East Coast. Midknight oranges SA panorama

"Through our promotional presence this year, I think what is different is particularly in the Midwest. It's been very successful," WCCPF CEO Suhanra Conradie told

"Our plan is to continue to increase our promotional visibility there beyond the coming season. It's been shown over the last few years that U.S. consumers buy citrus 12 months a year if it’s really available and backed up by promotional encouragement," she said.

She said exporters had experienced a very positive season to date, starting off strongly as domestic citrus was out of the market when South African fruit arrived. Additionally, weather  issues delayed some South African shipments and exports from other countries.

"We had a lot of rain for arrivals in September which meant - especially with the Midknights - that you had to wait. There's a bit of a gap between some of our conventional vessels.

"We could have probably sent more fruit earlier but the proper color hadn't yet developed for the U.S., and we will definitely not risk lowering our standards over the long term by sending lesser quality in an open market.

"The U.S. is a premium market for South African citrus and that’s the way we intend to treat it. A lot of effort goes into watching the demand and managing the shipments coming to the U.S. - we have a ship arriving every 10 days."

South Africa will be exporting citrus to the U.S. until early November, with Late Lane and Midknight oranges as the core products for the rest of the deal.

"The majority of our fruit arrives in conventional vessels but in between there are also some container vessels arriving.

"I think that we are well positioned for a strong finish; we are trying to send the right amount of fruit to meet our customers' needs."

Most of South Africa's U.S.-bound citrus shipments are from the region near Citrusdal with around 40,000 metric tons (MT) sent annually.




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