A late start to the California clementine season, a good market and
exceptional demand have DNE Imports Inc.'s Spanish clementine program
starting with a bang.
"It’s starting off good," John Lazopoulos, DNE Imports’ sales manager for
Spain and Morocco, told The Produce News Nov. 15. “Spain has been fortunate
that California has a late start, prices are good, demand is exceptional —
demand far exceeds supply — and we’re getting into the better varieties now
Mr. Lazopoulos said that the Spanish fruit would be smaller in size than usual
but still larger than the crop coming from California. That will give retailers an
opportunity to promote three-pound bags and five-pound boxes of the
increasingly popular clementines. That and a stronger U.S. dollar on the world
market might also mean that Spain will ship more fruit than anticipated to the
United States this year.
“Business in Europe is starting to slow down, a lot of the cold storages and
facilities are not moving the fruit quite as rapidly as they would like, and the
dollar the last week [Nov. 8-12] has shown some strength. So there’s a little
bit of hope they’ll send a little more of it,” Mr. Lazopolous said. “There’s no
shortage of fruit in Spain. The movement in Europe has slowed down, and the
currency exchange has gone in the dollar’s favor, and it’s encouraging and
stimulating them to ship more.”
The Spanish clementines “are moving very quickly through the system, prices
are pretty steady and firm, and I think in the next week you’ll start to see
more 10x3 bags packed here,” Mr. Lazopolous said. “The retailers all have big
ads for the holidays, and supplies are tight. There were retailers who were
promised and had fruit committed to them from California, and California
wasn’t able to supply them, so that made the Spanish program even tighter.
The name of the game is to stay sold out and get paid for your product. The
price-point will be there [and] a lot of retailers are going to carry the five-
pounder and the bags.”
California clementines are “exceptionally small” in size this year, Mr.
Lazopolous said, while the Spanish crop is still sizing up and should reach
larger sizes — 18s and 20s — by the second week of December.
“As Spain gets into the better varieties, you’ll start to see some bigger sizes,”
Mr. Lazopolous said. “The weather is perfect, the fruit has good color and it’s
some of the best quality they’ve seen in years. Eating quality should be very
good out of Spain and California as well.”
The Spanish clementines will last at least through January, he said, then the
California varieties will be available into April, along with DNE’s Florida citrus
“We’re a company that’s quite diversified; the two [clementine programs] do
complement our Florida program, and we’re able to capitalize on our
strengths,” Mr. Lazopolous said.
Clementine consumption in the United States has been rising steadily over the
past decade, sometimes cannibalizing other citrus categories. Clementines
are “much more plentiful now, there’s much more fruit available and the
season is longer,” Mr. Lazopolous said. “Even with all that said, consumption
is still low in this country. There is a lot of room for growth in this category.”
DNE Imports Inc. in Gloucester City, NJ, is a branch of Fort Pierce, FL-based
DNE World Fruit Sales.