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Strong season culminates for South African citrus

The 2013 South African citrus season has concluded after a strong season.

"It has been a very good season for our citrus," Suhanra Conradie, chief executive officer of the Western Cape Citrus Producers Forum, said in a press release. "In our 14th year, the volumes consistently have been [about] 40,000 tons each year. This season brought 39,462.98 tons to the U.S."

2013-Season-end-fruitBagged programs have become more popular in the U.S. The fruit is shipped in 15-kilogram cartons and is repacked by U.S. service providers into three- or five-pound bags for retail stores.Beginning in early July and arriving every 10 days on conventional or refrigerated ships to Philadelphia, or containers to Newark, NJ, through mid-October, 2,920.5 tons of clementines or easy peelers, 28,715.40 tons of Navels, 6,505.80 tons of Midknight oranges, 337 tons of grapefruit, and 983.85 tons of Cara-Cara was exported to the U.S.

"When our fruit arrived, domestic fruit was no longer available so the market was strong for our Navel oranges," Conradie added in the press release. "While the U.S. market frequently prefers larger fruit, retail programs of bagged oranges are growing in popularity. The fruit is shipped in 15-kilogram cartons and is repacked by U.S. service providers into three- or five-pound bags."

Weather conditions are always a factor with fruit, and 2013 was no different.

"Midknight oranges are a wonderful product and had a later start this year," Conradie added in the press release. "Followed by California fruit becoming available earlier, this shortened our normal marketing window and resulted in some overlap.

"The first hallmark of our program is the growers' disciplined compliance with USDA protocols coupled with collaboration on shipping volumes," she continued. "A real-time information flow among growers, importers and retailers enables us to read the market so that neither too much nor too little fruit reaches the marketplace."

South Africa is the world's second-largest exporter of citrus next to Spain, with only 3 percent exported to the United States. The South African citrus sold in the United States comes primarily from the region near Citrusdal about two hours northwest of Cape Town, the Northern Cape near Kimberly, and the northwest along the Orange River, near Upington.

"We value the opportunity to export to the U.S.," Conradie added. "It is a very important one for South Africa's strengthening economic position."