The South African summer citrus season is well underway and is looking promising for U.S. consumers who have grown accustomed to the high-quality citrus available from that country during the summer.
During June and July, clementines and early Navels arrived from South Africa on refrigerated reefer ships and, to a lesser degree, refrigerated containers. After arrival in the port of Philadelphia, the fruit is sent in refrigerated trucks to supermarket retailers across the United States.
“These are premium products and we are so proud to be able to offer only the very best fruit South Africa has to offer to the U.S. market,” Gerrit van der Merwe, a grower and chairman of the Western Cape Citrus Producers Forum, said in a July 25 press release. “We say that our fruit is the pride of our land and so it is.”
The forum is a consortium of about 350 South African growers eligible to export summer citrus to the United States.
“In addition to the clementines and Navel oranges, we will follow these up with oranges known as Navellates, or late Navels,” Mr. van der Merwe added in the press release. “They will be available soon in the U.S. This type of eating orange is characterized by its deep orange color, and it delivers a delicious sweet burst of juicy goodness. For those whose favorites are Mandarins or soft citrus, they will be available on supermarket shelves soon also.”
According to the forum, U.S. consumers prefer larger-sized fruit, and fruit from South Africa fits that profile.
“Size matters and South Africa delivers, but it is meaningless without flavor, and the good news is our fruit delivers that too,” Mr. van der Merwe said in the press release.
To date, four ships have arrived in the United States from South Africa. They are scheduled to arrive around every 10 days to assure the freshest fruit is available to retailers on a regular and sustained basis.Fruit harvesting in the groves and fruit being packed for the U.S. market in packinghouses of the Western Cape are active virtually around the clock to assure a regular arrival of the best fruit.
“The rigorous inspection in South Africa and here in the U.S. assures the fruit meets and exceeds all regulations for import,” Mr. van der Merwe added in the press release. “It does not undergo any chemical application from a fumigation process that is known to shorten the shelf life and affects the taste of the fruit.”
South Africa is the second-largest exporter of citrus in the world and produces 60 percent of all citrus being exported from the Southern Hemisphere.