Capespan North America approaching citrus transition with "moderate optimism"

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Capespan North America approaching citrus transition with

As the North American market prepares for the transition to Southern Hemisphere citrus, Capespan North America's CEO Mark Greenberg says the fresh fruit supplier is approaching the period with "reasonable expectations and with moderate optimism".

Capespan, a major player in the global industry, delivers produce from orchards to international retailers. To aid the import process to North America as effectively as possible, Greenberg notes: "We're watching the California season carefully, trying to get a feel for when the California supply of late mandarins and supply of navel oranges is going to wind down and give the imports an opportunity into the market."

Greenberg looks to customer demand as the final indication of when the transition for various citrus fruit imports will likely begin.

"Our customers are telling us when they want fruit and many of them are asking for mandarins to start in mid-May and navel oranges to start in early July.

"I tend to believe what the customers are telling us to be ready for, which is a major transition in mid-May for easy peelers, and a major transition on navel oranges in early July."

To Greenberg, knowing the consumers' wants is essential for the Southern Hemisphere's exporters to "ensure that we have fruit available when our customers need it and not too early - not to have fruit when it's not welcome in the market".

He says he doesn't foresee exporters experiencing any difficulty supplying consumers with their favorite fresh produce when the time comes, though.

"Easy peelers - clementines and mandarins - have done really well in the US and Canadian markets, and we'll be strong in those products. Navel oranges also have, apart from last year, done quite well and we expect to have a significant supply of navel oranges for our customers," he says.

Breaking down how this year's volumes from Chile might compare to last season, Greenberg says: "I think that Chile had a huge crop on almost everything last year and I think this year's crop will be very similar."

He adds that although Chilean authorities have reported that both volumes of navel oranges and clementines will be down 2% or 3%", he feels this difference is "almost immaterial."

Although "they're expecting their late mandarin crop to be pretty flat as compared to last year", he notes 2019 has seen "more orchards coming into production" in the nation, which he thinks could lead to a rise in Chilean W. Murcotts.

As for exports from Peru and South Africa, Greenberg remarks: "Peru will be probably unchanged or up marginally and South Africa can't really comment. There is generally a large crop of citrus in South Africa - they've had weather patterns that have affected some of the early easy peelers with some hail in the north, but there won't be, in my view, a shortage of citrus coming up from South Africa."

Considering how these factors might affect market conditions, Greenberg emphasizes the demand he expects for easy peelers and navel oranges, adding: "Last season, navel oranges struggled to some extent...we began to see that soft citrus and specifically late mandarins were really cutting into the navel orange demand, but we've been working with our retailers, setting up our programs for the season and...I say they're expecting a well- and consistently-supplied market."

According to Greenberg, crucial aims for the season will include "managing the volume of W. Murcotts coming into the North American market and ensuring that we have the kind of demand from our customers to generate a soft landing and be ready for the start of the domestic or northern hemisphere season".

Last year Chilean W. Murcotts, in particular, struggled due to the fact that the fruit's harvest was delayed, giving exporters a smaller market window to move volumes, says Greenberg.

Still, he adds: "If we have a slightly earlier start and a similar volume to last year and we focus on keeping the product moving with reasonable prices, then that challenge will be met.

With all factors considered, Greenberg comments: "I think people are approaching this season a little bit more cautiously than last season and I think that that very ...cautiousness and that moderated level of expectation is ultimately going to result in a more successful season, and a season with greater stability."



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