EU possibilities grow for Texan grapefruit, Mexican limes
California-based Wonderful Citrus plans to gain a larger foothold in Europe, which to date has taken more of a supplementary role overshadowed by North American and Asian sales.
Speaking with www.freshfruitportal.com during the inaugural Amsterdam Produce Show this month, Wonderful Citrus managing director for international sales Daniel Kaas said the old continent was taking on a "growing importance" for the group.
"If you look at it broadly North America is the number one market in terms of volume and return, Asia is number two and Europe is third, but in terms of diversification it’s important," Kaas said.
"Certainly for limes from Mexico it’s a bigger market than Asia and for our Texas grapefruit it will be a bigger market than Asia," he said, clarifying the former related to Wonderful Citrus' acquisition of B&S Grupo Exportador in Martinez de la Torre, Mexico in April this year.
"We bring Minneola tangelos here and they mainly stay in the Dutch market - that’s from California. So there’s room for expansion, development and growth here in Europe, maybe more than Asian markets just from starting at a lower base."
He said the biggest competition for the group's Texas-grown grapefruit in Europe came in the form of product from Florida, Turkey and Spain.
"It's [Turkish and Spanish grapefruit] a Mediterranean grapefruit so it’s cleaner on the outside, and maybe doesn’t have quite the juice and sugar levels inside compared to a tropical grapefruit," Kaas said.
He said production of Texan grapefruit would be a little lower than last year, but with more trees in the ground the category was in line to develop.
"We had a big crop the previous year. Some of the trees are taking a little bit of a breather," he said.
"There have been changes in some of the farmer techniques to yield more of a Class 1 grapefruit in a subtropical environment, so trees are responding to that with a little lighter production but that's not a reflection of the future.
"You want to do it right, be profitable and then worry about the volume side of things."
He expected Texan grapefruit, similar to the Floridian product, would arrive in Europe from around Dec. 1 to April 15.
Kaas mentioned California orange production would likely be similar compared to last season, with some windows shorter and others larger, while he was excited about developments in easy peeler mandarins and limes.
"What we see typically in citrus is growth in consumption during the poor weather months, when people have colds and will gravitate towards citrus for the Vitamin C," he said.