Lower Chinese soft citrus crop a "great opportunity" for Israeli Jaffa Orri mandarins
Following the substantial harvest growth of Jaffa Orri, Israel's Plant Production and Marketing Board is targeting China this year for a strong uptick in exports.
China is the leading citrus grower worldwide, producing 20 million metric tons (MT) in 2016, according to the organization.
It also imported 21,000MT of mandarins in the 2015-16 season - marking a 10% year-on-year increase.
"We expect to dramatically increase sales volumes of delicious Jaffa Orri in China market in 2017 [sic]," Israel's Plant Production and Marketing Board citrus head Tal Amit said.
"Chinese are fond of fresh produce and seeking for premium mandarins and are willing to pay for its delicious taste."
The group also highlighted the strong performance of fresh fruit sales in the Chinese e-commerce sector. Sales of online fresh produce were nearly US$4 billion in 2014, with industry forecasts predicting a market size of US$16 billion and by 2018.
"Jaffa Orri mandarin is well established in Western Europe, especially in France and Germany," Amit said.
"The growing demand for mandarin in China encourage us to conduct a market research in China and Japan to learn about Jaffa Orri potential in these markets, including e-commerce outlets [sic]. We hope to receive the consumer research results in April 2017."
The Jaffa Orri is a mandarin developed by scientists of the Israeli Volcani Research Center. The Plant Production and Marketing Board said it was an easy-to-peel mandarin that boosted an "excellent, fresh, sweet flavor", minimal seed content and long shelf life.
"As a result, Jaffa Orri aims to minimize fresh produce waste and can yield better profit," Amit said.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) forecast China's mandarin and tangerine production to drop by 900,000MT due to citrus greening and unfavorable weather. China represents over two-thirds of global production and consumption and one-fourth of global exports.
"This can be a great opportunity for Jaffa Orri, especially, since we successfully increased production in 2017, along with extending the shelf life," notes Amit.