Chilean kiwifruit has been arriving in the US for several weeks now, heralding the end of the California season. Importers say the season has begun strongly, with good volumes and quality helping to move the market along. This is in contrast to some seasons when early Chilean arrivals are sometimes not in the best shape.
"We started receiving Chilean kiwifruit during Weeks 15 and 16 and are expected to continue through September," said Cole Firman of Coosemans LA Shipping. "The season is off to a good start with sales picking up as California ended. The fruit is coming in pretty solid this year. Sometimes, shippers will put the fruit into storage until the California season is finished, so the kiwifruit sometimes look a bit tired by the time they arrive. But this year we have had no problems."
For Coosemans, this new season fits in well with their overall kiwifruit program, after just finishing up with their New Zealand Baby Kiwi season. "There are so many regions growing kiwifruit now," Firman observed. "We have just finished our Baby Kiwi season but we still have some gold kiwifruit from New Zealand for a while longer."
With decent volumes coming in from Chile, suppliers have noted that movement remains strong thanks to competitive pricing and solid demand. "The kiwifruit market has been stable," Firman said. "We are seeing plentiful supply, and price-wise it's a buyer's market at the moment. They have been moving at a good pace which is nice to see."
He added that Coosemans has been working with retailers to develop new packaging options. Currently, the company offers place packs and bulk cases. "The place packs are a standard 36ct tray and we also offer a volume fill bulk case. We have been looking at different packaging options including clamshells as we often receive questions about these from retailers."
Consumer trials of red kiwifruit
Last month it was announced that a consumer trial would take place in New Zealand to determine the viability of red kiwifruit. Should the trial be successful, growers are likely to increase volume and North America could eventually see the fruit on shelves as well, just as gold kiwifruit has entered the market. "They are still trying to figure out the market and how the public will respond," Firman said. "At the moment, volume is very limited but this could change depending on the results of the trial. There is certainly potential as the fruit's appearance is very unique."
He concluded by sharing that the demand for green kiwifruit in the US continues to increase, suggesting that the rise in the popularity of exotic fruits in general could be helping to fuel this increase. "They are a good eating fruit and although considered subtropical, the increasing popularity of tropical fruit may be causing an increase in kiwifruit sales as more consumers look for unique fruit."