Better quality this year. This seems to be the take away from Mexico’s current citrus season.
“Overall there are the same volumes as last year but the quality seems to be better,” says GT Parris of Seald Sweet in Vero Beach, Fl. “Mexican citrus is still trying to gain a foothold here but it’s making its name and gaining a good reputation when people get the fruit.” Much of the supplies are coming from the West Coast of Mexico.
Here’s how supplies look.
MANDARINS: The push is on for mandarins right now for a few reasons. “This is when they’re at their peak,” says Parris, adding that the fruit is also timed well for Chinese New Year, this year happening January 25.
Parris also notes that the fruit quality is good with bright color and strong flavor and the supplies are filling in for some gaps in both the California and Florida markets as needed. “Typically these are also in nice sizes—80s, 120s, 64s a little bit. It’s a nice firm piece of virtually seedless fruit,” says Parris.
He adds that compared to last year, volume on mandarins has increased somewhat. “They’re planting a few more down there but they’re not flooding it. It’s still a growing market,” he says. “The retail buyer is still getting used to having it. The wholesalers love it—it’s a great item for them because they can also hit their ethnic markets and can fill in on retail.”
With strong demand for mandarins, pricing is also good this year and slightly above last year’s numbers. “It varies by $1 or so here and there but right now it’s $22 on the big ones to $28 on the smaller sizes and it’ll stay there for the most part,” says Parris.
GRAPEFRUIT: Mexican grapefruit that’s currently in production is the Flame variety which produces a dark, red interior. “The color on the outside is fairly good—it takes on that characteristic of a Flame that we have in Florida or Texas, a dark blush,” says Parris. “It has the characteristics of Florida with that thinner skin and smooth exterior.”
That said demand is average given the fruit is going up against supplies from both Florida, but more so, Texas, with their grapefruit seasons. “People are used to getting it domestically from Texas. So it’s more of a niche item that’s a filler sometimes,” adds Parris.
Both pricing and supplies are similar to last year for grapefruit.
JUICE ORANGES: Juice oranges from Mexico are similar to Florida juice oranges in that they’re mid-season right now following the early season variety, Hamlin. “Their oranges may not be quite as juicy as Florida but they take on the look of a California orange where it’s bright orange,” says Parris. “The outside of the fruit has some scarring and some green but it’s for juicing so it has good interior and good juice.”
Again, supplies are similar to last year and pricing—approximately $11-$12—is also similar to last year.
“They also run Valencias into May and when they do, they’ll have more volume available,” says Parris.