Tozzo says demand for persimmons over the winter was decent. “Even in December when it’s typically difficult because there’s still domestic product in, we had good movement until the finish,” he says. “We compete here during the Israeli season with California, which has already been planted when we start and they go until the middle of January. This year they were done with volume for the most part by the middle part of December and that helped us have decent movement in December.” Pricing stayed equally steady throughout the season.
Turning to South Africa
And while the harvest from South Africa looks good, Tozzo is looking forward to some developments on the importing front to get South African fruit to customers faster. “South African fruit is only allowed into the U.S. by irradiation so that’s been a big hurdle,” says Tozzo. To date, the company has worked with farther-flung irradiation plants located as far as the Midwest or the deep South. That makes it a challenge since MOR USA’s market is primarily in the northeast. “So we haven’t had a successful UScampaign of South African fruit yet because of the increased cost and time to treat the fruit,” he says. Each year we refine it better, but it’s still not cost-efficient for us.”
However, this year MOR USA is working with a New Jersey-based irradiation plant located approximately 40 miles away from the port. “This will save anywhere from seven to 14 days in treatment time,” says Tozzo. “That should bring fresher product to the marketplace and now we can start marketing a better piece of fruit and get more people on board.”
That includes customers in Canada. “The majority of fruit we’ve gotten from South Africa has typically gone to Canada in the summer months,” says Tozzo. “It’s a different marketing area but also a different season. That’s tough to market because you’re dealing with stone fruit, the berries, all sorts of fruits available at that time of year.”
While Tozzo estimates the South African season going until the end of June, it may even head into early July. “But again, that’s a tough time because there’s so much fruit out there for consumers and buyers to use so we’ll see,” he adds.
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