Chile: Citrus off to strong start in U.S. - FreshFruitPortal.com

Chilean clementines meet with "strong market demand" in U.S.

The first Chilean clementines have met with "heavy demand" in the U.S. market amid the Covid-19 pandemic, an industry body group has said.

With the campaign now fully underway, Citrus from Chile said that the country is expecting a 4% year-on-year increase in total exports to 347,000 metric tons (MT).

The boost is mainly driven by higher easy peeler volumes, with navel volume slightly lower than last year and lemon volume about the same. North America continues to lead as Chile’s primary export market for citrus.

Looking at clementines, Chile has been meeting strong market demand, with exports through week 23 an impressive 38% ahead of the same time last season, the organization said.

“This season’s weather and growing conditions have been ideal for growing sweet fruit with good sizing. Cool fall nights have given the clementines a brilliant orange color and very good Brix," said Juan Enrique Ortúzar, president of the Chilean Citrus Committee.

Promotable volumes of easy peelers will be available through October. Clementine shipments will wrap up around week 30, and mandarin shipments will start by week 28.

In light of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Citrus Committee said it has moved primarily online with its consumer and trade marketing campaigns. 

“With its strong immune-boosting benefits, citrus is experiencing heavy consumer demand," said Karen Brux, managing director of the U.S.-based Chilean Fresh Fruit Association.

"We’ll give this an extra push through social media outreach and online contests during the Chilean citrus season. We have more than 500,000 Facebook fans and more than 20,000 subscribers of our Fruits from Chile e-newsletter.

"These will be two key vehicles in communicating healthy, family-friendly ideas for using Chilean citrus throughout the day, whether easy peelers, lemons or navels."

She added that as the country continues to open up, retail promotion formats will also "continue to evolve".  

"We envision primarily online programs, like digital coupons or online cooking classes, but as in-store opportunities increase, our merchandisers in the U.S. and Canada will be ready to support these programs," she said.

The clementine harvest is currently concentrated in the Coquimbo and Valparaíso regions (Oronules, Clemenules and Orogrande varieties), with harvesting just starting in the O'Higgins region.

Weekly crop updates are now available, and the Committee will be sending more detailed information on lemons, navels and mandarins as shipments progress.