Chile’s first 2017 shipment of clementines to the U.S. departed from the port of Valparaiso during Week 15, a week earlier than the previous season. This serves as the official start of the Chilean Citrus season, which runs through October.

“Roughly 191 tons of clementines (12,260 boxes) are on their way to the U.S., with 89% destined for the East Coast,” says Karen Brux, Managing Director of the Chilean Fresh Fruit Association. This shipment includes 7,940 boxes of Oronules (121 tons) and 4,320 boxes of Clemenules (70 tons).   Chilean Clementine volume is expected to be slightly less than 2016, with around 42,000 tons of clementines exported from Chile between April and July. In 2016, 99% of all Chilean clementines were shipped to North America, and the same is anticipated for this season. 

“Clementines are just one part of Chile’s citrus offerings, which also include mandarins, lemons and navels,” mentioned Brux. In terms of timing, as Clementine shipments start to wind down in July, mandarins will ramp up, with shipments concentrated in the August-September timeframe. Navel oranges will be available from June-October, with lemons boasting the longest season of May through October. With favorable autumn temperatures and sufficient rainfall, the Chilean Citrus Committee anticipates good sizing and flavorful, juicy fruit”, added. 

Increase for mandarins anticipated

While total citrus volume is expected to increase just three percent, from 247,363 tons in 2016 to 256,000 tons in 2017, a huge increase is once again anticipated for mandarins. On the heels of a 22% volume increase in 2016, the Chilean Citrus Committee foresees another double-digit increase for mandarins this season, jumping from 53,000 tons to 67,000, a 26% increase over 2016.  Nearly 100% of all mandarins are destined for North America.

Comments Juan Enrique Ortúzar, Chairman of the Chilean Citrus Committee, “In 2014, Chile’s mandarin volume was around 27,000 tons. Here we are in 2017, just 3 years later, and we expect to ship 67,000 tons. This growth is phenomenal, and in direct response to strong demand from our customers in North America. We believe there are still more growth opportunities, and the Chilean Citrus Committee remains committed to supporting market development.”

In 2017, the Committee will expand its marketing program from the U.S. into Canada, working with a Toronto-based merchandiser to grow the Eastern Canadian market. The U.S. will remain its primary focus, and programs to promote lemons, easy peelers and navels are currently being discussed with retailers across the country.  The Chilean Citrus Committee will launch this season’s marketing program during two May shows:  the annual CPMA convention in Toronto and The West Coast Produce Expo in Palm Springs. With a strong social media following and a large retail dietitian network, the Citrus Committee will also engage in an extensive online marketing campaign. “Chile is the largest exporter of navels and easy peelers to North America and we offer a consistently great tasting piece of fruit to retailers and their customers.  We’re thrilled that the Chilean citrus industry is continuing to strengthen its marketing investment so we can get our citrus, whether lemons, easy peelers or navels, into more shopping carts,” concluded Brux.