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Netherlands: Peru a burgeoning supplier of citrus

For Van Ooijen Citrus, South America is a major supplier when it comes to citrus. This season, large volumes coming from several South American countries are once again expected to arrive. Whereas Peru is playing an increasingly important role as a producer, imports from Argentina have been on the decline in recent years. Tom Leenheer of Van Ooijen speaks about a fluctuating citrus market.

“Peru is definitely on the rise as a supplier of citrus,” he says. “Because of the favourable climate, adequate water and little rain, larger quantities from Peru are heading our way each year. And not just Peru. The whole of South America is doing increasingly well.” The end of June saw the arrival of the first Minneola’s from Peru. "Although three weeks earlier than in previous years the quality was excellent, both in colour and flavour." Tom visited merchant ITN himself, staying for two months to ensure that only the best shipments would make the cut. Van Ooijen insists on selling only the highest quality under the brand Puma. Besides Minneola’s, Van Ooijen Citrus imports Satsuma’s, Afourer Mandarins, Malvaceo’s and Navels from Peru, all of which are becoming increasingly popular. 

Import from Argentina decreases

Compared to five years ago, Van Ooijen Citrus takes in considerably lower quantities from Argentina. This is especially true for the mandarins and navel oranges. "The decline is mainly due to weather conditions and rising production costs,” he explains. “Weather conditions for this season were decent, right up until a few weeks ago, when severe frost in Northern Argentina impacted production. Lemon crops in particular fell victim to the cold.”

Whether or not the decline is structural remains to be seen. “Argentina is still the largest provider of citrus right now,” says Tom. “But the market is shifting. Take Uruguay, for example. It is producing like never before, but it’s under pressure. Partly because production and transport costs are getting higher. Also, the South American market, as previously mentioned, is improving, which decreases the urge for export overseas."

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