In time to celebrate America's birthday, the first shipment of citrus from South Africa arrived July 3 at Holt Terminal in Gloucester City, NJ, aboard the refrigerated vessel, Nagato Reefer.
Onboard were 245,000 cartons of clementines, and Navel and Cara Cara oranges. Some early-season citrus, including Star Ruby grapefruit arrived in June in containers.
Also onboard was King Citrus, the new friendly lion mascot of South Africa Summer Citrus.
"King Citrus is key to our branding initiative," Suhanra Conradie, chief executive officer of the Western Cape Citrus Producers Forum, said in a press release. "The South Africa Summer Citrus logo has long included unique elements to South Africa - the lion being the most prominent. King Citrus is a visual extension of our tagline 'Pride of Our Land,' an obvious connection to a pride of lions and an accurate description of pride our growers take in sending premium citrus fruit to the U.S."
King Citrus will visit various U.S. cities, stopping at well-known and popular spots including Philadelphia's Independence Hall on July 4th. In subsequent weeks, King Citrus will appear at iconic U.S. locations In New York and Washington, DC, as well as various supermarkets.
The ship's arrival marks the official beginning of the 14th season of shipments of South African Summer Citrus to the United States. The program began in 1999 with 50 tons, and last year citrus exports to the United States exceeded 41,000 tons. A vessel with citrus from South Africa arrives every 10-12 days to assure best quality fruit is fresh and available in the marketplace.
Clementines, or easy peelers, are increasingly popular among U.S. consumers. Navel oranges are considered the finest of eating oranges. The Cara Cara has a rich dark pink or red flesh. Arriving after domestic citrus is no longer available, the citrus from South Africa enables consumers to have citrus year round. Fruit is inspected prior to leaving Cape Town and again on arrival in the United States.
Recipes are an ongoing part of connecting with consumers and are a very popular page on the www.summercitrus.com website.
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.
The Western Cape Citrus Producers Forum facilitates logistical, marketing and sales support coordination of products for its members. Its mission is to maintain and expand its role as the preferred and reliable supplier of safe summer citrus for the United States.