Q&A: Chilean Citrus Committee Manager on markets, growth and production woes
The 2022-23 Chilean season has just ended, with over 380,000 tons shipped to destination markets. FreshFruitPortal.com recently spoke to Chilean Citrus Committee manager, Montserrat Valenzuela, who analyzed the behavior of exports, markets and upcoming marketing strategies.
What is the season outlook?
The 2021 season was out of the parameters in citrus production, because we were very low. The 2022 season was marked by drought in some citrus growing areas of Chile, coupled with high freight costs.
Last year there were several rain events, plus this year's rains, which have helped to increase productivity and give us a lot of hope for the coming season.
As of week 40, the season is almost done and citrus shipments accumulate 380,390 tons (24,076,863 boxes), which corresponds to a volume 46% higher than 2022 and 15% above the average of the last three seasons.
Of this, 42% corresponds to mandarins, 24.2% to oranges, 17.6% to lemons and 16.2% to clementines.
Of the total accumulated to date, the U.S. remains our top market, accounting for 88.4% of shipments, while the remaining volume has been destined for the Far East (6.1%), Latin America (2.6%), Europe (1.8%), Canada (0.8%), Russia (0.3%) and the Middle East (0.01%).
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What are the main markets for lemons, oranges and soft citrus?
The main destination market is undoubtedly the U.S., since more than 90% of mandarins and clementines are exported to that country. We also export 80% of oranges and 60% of lemons.
Up to week 39, 65,000 tons of lemons have been shipped, which is 16% more than last season, plus 17,000 tons to Japan and 5,000 tons to Korea. So the lemon is much more diversified, not as mono-market as oranges and tangerines.
What were the main challenges of the current season?
The basis of the export process is always quality and consistency, and the whole system is now also demanding sustainability. You have to produce more and better with greener products, that is what the markets are asking for today.
Managing water resources correctly, an integrated pest management, in short, an efficient use of all resources.
What actions are you going to carry out with a view to the coming years?
We are going to continue with promotional campaigns. This year we did a small one that was very successful, which was a workshop with importers. Importers participated, they asked many questions, and said that the quality of the lemon is very good.
[They also asked for] information about Chile, how we are producing, how we are managing the orchards, how packaging works; they like to know about the product they are buying.
So next season we are going to continue with the workshop in Japan and we are also going to do a workshop for the food and service sector, a culinary demonstration of the different ways they can apply lemon in their preparations.
And we are going to continue with our campaign in the U.S. with all our citrus.