With the Peruvian citrus export season now getting underway, the industry is forecasting volumes of around 200,000 metric tons (MT) and expecting strong growth in China and the Dominican Republic.
Sergio Castillo, president of industry association ProCitrus, told FreshFruitPortal.com that the fruit was developing as expected and that the first shipments would start at the beginning of March and last through September.
“The Satsuma harvest has already started for the local market. We are just about to start the export campaign, and the early varieties are of sufficient quality and sizes,” he said.
“In terms of exports and volumes we are estimating that we could grow around 7-8%. That forecasts that we have at the moment, but the volumes are going to grow.”
Del Castillo explained that the total citrus category had grown by 12% last season year-on-year to 186,555MT, up from 166,615MT in 2017.
Until week 50, oranges were up 12%, early mandarins were up 14%, clementines up 12%, late mandarins (including W. Murcotts and related hybrids) were up 18%, tangerines up 30%, Sutil limes up 30%, and Tahiti/Persian limes were up 74%. Tangelos were the only citrus commodity to decline, with volumes dropping by 19%.
As for export market expectations, Del Castillo explained that China was showing particularly strong growth.
“After we opened the market in 2010, there was not much activity in China for the first five years- it was outside of our top 10 markets - but since then it has been growing,” he said.
“The last three years were have seen vigorous growth and nowadays we ship more than 10 million kilos to China.”
He added that the Dominican Republic had increased its share of Peruvian citrus, increasing import volumes from around 100MT a couple of years ago to 1,300MT last season.
“The Dominican Republic is one of the worst affected countries by HLB (citrus greening disease), so its citrus production has dropped significantly and they are looking for a Southern Hemisphere country that can provide large citrus volumes for several months,” he said.