South African citrus group enjoys positive U.S. export season
The Western Cape Citrus Producers Forum (WCCPF) - a consortium of about 300 growers eligible to export to the U.S. - said the season thus far had been 'very good'.
"It began earlier with shipments arriving mid to late May via container and larger volumes by mid June via conventional vessels," WCCPF said in a statement sent to www.freshfruitportal.com.
"Weather conditions in South Africa from January onward this year contributed to the fruits’ readiness to ship earlier this year as it met the high internal and external quality standards required for the US market.
"Shipments will continue through late October, as usual."
The group also said market conditions in the U.S. had been 'steady and strong', with high demand moving fruit quickly upon arrival.
"There is always a strong demand for the easy peelers and while more has been shipped in 2015 than in 2014, the market could accommodate even more; it is possible greater volumes will be shipped in the future with a more balanced volume achieved throughout the entire season," WCCPF said.
Last season some 45,000 metric tons (MT) of South African citrus were shipped to the U.S., marking a 12% increase over 2013 volumes.
The demand for oranges has been steady and will continue through late October, while soft citrus will continue through late September, the group said.
The last soft citrus variety, HoneyGold, is expected to hit the market around Sept. 20, as are two of the later orange varieties, Cambria and Autumn Gold. The last orange variety, Midknight, should arrive a week later.
At the beginning of the season it was announced two key pilot initiatives for U.S. exports would continue this year, including arrivals at the Port of Houston and an allowance for faster transit times.
Temporary U.S. soft citrus shortage
According to Chilean market intelligence consultancy Decofrut, the U.S. market saw 'sharp declines' in late August in the volumes of soft citrus, which led to significant price rises.
The head of Capespan North America confirmed to www.freshfruitportal.com there had been a 'shortage' of the fruit over the last week or so, and he expected it to last around another week.
"The Chilean late mandarins that dominate the North American market in autumn are coming, but slower than anticipated," CEO Mark Greenberg said.
"Some of this is due to rain in Chile in the first week of August that delayed picking and packing."
He said with Chilean and South African clementines at the end of their season, and with Peruvian W. Murcotts also winding down, the market was now waiting for late Chilean and South African varieties.
"While we wait, there is an upward trend in spot market pricing as retailers bid for this momentarily short-supplied product," Greenberg said.
"When the Chilean product starts to arrive, prices could moderate somewhat, depending upon arrival patterns and volumes."