Chilean citrus is on a good footing

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Chilean citrus is on a good footing

As of week 23, Chilean citrus exports reached a total volume of 36,833 tons - a 1% decrease from the same date in 2023.

With shipments at full speed, spoke with the manager of the Citrus Committee, Monserrat Valenzuela, who explained the current state of the crop and promotional campaigns. 

How has the quality and condition of the fruit been?

Quality is a constant concern for growers and exporters, which is why the industry is constantly innovating. Growers and exporters incorporate technologies to produce quality citrus efficiently, increasing market productivity and competitiveness. Domestic quality is an important factor, and markets demand quality and safety.

Rain and cool weather this season have accelerated color development and the fruit is of good internal quality. In addition, Chile has a privileged phytosanitary status as a fruit fly-free country and can reach the different markets without cold treatment, which added to the Systems Approach, which has been successfully incorporated in the orchards, improves the post-harvest life of the fruit, making a positive difference in the quality of Chilean citrus.

Conversely, recent rains have delayed the harvests; however, the accumulation of snow and rainwater is expected to positively impact the sector and somewhat mitigate the effects of these years of drought.

What is the total volume of Chilean production?

 Regarding export volumes, as of week 23, Chile's citrus exports totaled 36,833 tons, 1% less than on the same date in 2023, including 26,812 tons of clementines and 9,208 tons of lemons and oranges.

Of the total accumulated to date, the U.S. received 85% of the shipments, while the remaining volume has been destined for the Far East (12.2%), Latin America (2.6%), Europe (0.1%) and Canada (0.1%).

What promotional campaigns have you carried out this season?

This season, promotional activities are focused on the USA for clementines, mandarins, lemons, and oranges and in Japan for lemons.

This season's promotion plan in Japan consists of a workshop where the main importers and distributors of Chilean lemons are invited, as well as the specialized press, with emphasis on Japanese social media.

This workshop highlights the export potential of Chile's citrus industry, as well as the promotional tools with which Chile supports importers to promote rotation and consumption, emphasizing issues regarding export statistics, production regions, availability and sustainability of the industry. A tour of supermarkets and the Ota wholesale market in Tokyo, one of the main markets in Japan, was also conducted to visualize in situ the type of display and sales format.

The United States is a key market for Chilean citrus; on average 80% is destined for the U.S. Every season, activities have been defined both at the point of sale and through social media to promote consumption, and this season the focus will be mainly on social media with activities and online contests.

Additionally, for this market, there is an emphasis on participation in events dedicated to fresh fruit, given that The Global Fresh Produce & Floral Show, the main fresh produce fair, and the regional fairs are of great interaction with retail representatives, and constitute a unique instance to establish a relationship that is crucial to carry out effective sales and marketing programs for Chilean citrus.

In your opinion, what are the main challenges and successes of the current season?

Facing these years of drought is a great challenge, it is a factor to consider when we face issues of sustainability and projections for the national citrus industry.

Another important point is related to the growth, development, and opening of markets, which represents a great challenge, we must take the opportunities to continue growing in the United States and other potential markets.

In addition, competition from citrus-producing countries in the southern hemisphere such as Peru, Argentina, Uruguay and South Africa is increasing year by year. The U.S. receives an average of 80% of our citrus, which represents a great risk.

Thus, it is important to diversify our citrus supply basket with varieties that are of greater interest and response in China and Asia in general.

For this we have to maintain competitiveness, today it is not only required to have a quality product but also to produce clean and at a lower cost to maintain competitiveness, this has led the industry to develop strategies with programs for continuous incorporation of innovation in the production and export chain, which allow us to increase production efficiency by counteracting factors such as labor shortages and increased costs of workers, inputs, and freight.

How have the markets behaved and how do you project the end of the season?

The Chilean citrus season is developing according to the projected volume estimates, so far clementines are 60% advanced, with 26,812 tons of the 45,000 tons estimated for this season and the U.S. has received 98% of the volume.

For oranges, lemons, and clementines the markets are receiving the first arrivals so it is still early to assess the behavior and it is difficult to make forecasts, there is still a long season ahead.

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