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Mexico puts pressure on US organic citrus market

Organic citrus is moving at a healthy pace from the West Coast.

“We’re right in the peak of the organic citrus season,” says Craig Morris of Homegrown Organic Farms in Porterville, Ca., which grows some 12 different varietals of organic citrus.

Homegrown, which grows largely in Northern and Southern California but also imports organic citrus from Mexico, does note that the crop this year is down 15 to 20 percent compared to last year due to a light crop set.

Demand pushes on
However demand is steady, if not slightly higher in some varietals says Morris—namely, the naval orange. “Of all the varietals we grow, navels are the most difficult as far as setting a consistent crop. So it’s the most challenging for us to grow,” says Morris. “Because of that, the difficulties of growing navel oranges are potentially causing a long-term supply issue.”

Altogether though, pricing is put at about 10 percent higher year to date compared to last year at this time. “We don’t have the synthetic tools that the conventional counterpart has and because of that, our costs to farm are higher. And our average yields are lower,” says Morris. “So it’s very difficult to be successful in organic citrus.”

Mexican impact
At the same time, Morris is seeing other markets becoming bigger players in organic citrus. “It looks like Mexico is becoming more of a factor,” says Morris. “The acreage seems to be increasing and they seem to be priced very competitively.”

However, helping weather that pressure is the consistent and increasing demand Morris sees across not only Homegrown’s own varietals in citrus, but organics as a category. “The organic sector is growing in demand,” he says. “It used to lie within the space of more of the natural foods type retailers but now we have growing demand from national retailers and people you wouldn’t think have interest. No doubt it’s crossed into mainstream America.”

For more information:
Cherie France
Homegrown Organic Farms
Tel: +1-559-306-1750

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