Chilean citrus season projects volume increase to the U.S. market

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The Chilean Citrus Committee of ASOEX estimates a 6% increase in citrus exports, encompassing navels, lemons, and easy peelers (clementines and mandarins).

With a total citrus forecast of 387,000 metric tons, Chile expects to ship roughly 85% of all of its volume to the U.S. market, according to a news release from the group detailing the initial crop estimate.

Growth will continue to be driven by the easy peeler category, with a projected 7% increase for clementines (rising to 55,000 metric tons) and an 11% increase for mandarins (up to 145,000 metric tons), according to the news release. The estimated double-digit growth for mandarins in 2021 follows a 40% volume jump in 2020.

Lemons, of which an estimated 60% will be shipped to the U.S., are expected to see a 3% increase, according to the release.

Chilean navel volume will stay relatively the same, at around 89,000 metric tons.

According to the committee, the overall increase in volume is due primarily to the expansion of plantings over the past decade. There are now 55,105 acres of citrus in Chile.

“Last year’s rain in the central region replenished reservoirs and helped boost production,” Juan Enrique Ortuzar, president of the Chilean Citrus Committee, said in the release.

“Growing conditions have been ideal for developing good brix and sizing, while cool nights will give easy peelers and navels a brilliant orange color.”

Retail promotions

“We partnered with nearly 50 retail chains last season, employing such tactics as digital coupons, web sliders, banner ads, retail-tagged videos and social media programs,” Karen Brux, managing director of the Chilean Fresh Fruit Association, said in the release. “Not only were these strategies highly effective in driving sales, they were also powerful in reaching millions of shoppers with citrus nutrition and usage information.”

In 2021, Brux said the committee will expand on these promotions and add new e-commerce initiatives, according to the release. For retailers wanting to promote in-store, merchandising support will be available.

“We’re continually monitoring retail and consumer shifts so that we can provide the best support, both for the Chilean citrus growers and exporters and our partners in North America,” Brux said in the release.

Clementine shipments started in mid-April, while lemons started in early May.