The South African summer citrus season is progressing according to plan with
30,583 tons of clementines, Navel oranges and grapefruit shipped as of the
second week of September.
"We have been delighted with the demand for our citrus this season," Gerrit
van der Merwe, chairman of the Western Cape Citrus Producers Forum, said in
a Sept. 7 press release.
Mr. van der Merwe, who was in the United States recently visiting retailers and
importers, added, "The volume we will achieve this season represents a 20
percent increase over 2009, and we expect all our fruit to be sold by the first
week of November."
The forum made a strategic decision at the end of last season to modify its
supply chain, leading to more frequent but smaller shipments of fruit,
according to Mr. van der Merwe. "Instead of [as] in the past a shipment
arriving every three or even four weeks, we chartered smaller reefer ships
which have been docking in every 10 to 12 days," he added in the press
release. "This has worked very well for us, as we have been able to satisfy
demand on a continuous basis, ensuring that retailers have a reliable source
of supply throughout the season."
Consumers have responded by buying and enjoying the fruit, which the forum
said has an excellent Brix-to-acid ratio.
"Other providers offer fruit with a high acid taste, which is not in favor among
U.S. consumers," Mr. van der Merwe said in the press release. "That sweet
flavor combined with the good eating quality of our fruit's firm juicy texture
has become a favorite of U.S. consumers."
South African citrus exports to the United States began in 1999, and all citrus
from South Africa undergoes USDA inspections to ensure compliance with U.S.
"The rigorous inspection in South Africa and here in the U.S. assures the fruit
meets and exceeds all regulations for import. It does not undergo any
chemical application from a fumigation process that potentially shortens the
shelf life of the fruit," Mr. van der Merwe said in the press release.
All citrus from South Africa comes to the United States through the port of
Gloucester, NJ, along the Delaware River in the greater Philadelphia area. An
additional 9,769 tons will arrive in the next six to eight weeks for a total of
40,352 tons shipped for the 2010 season.