First Fresh NZ managing director Ian Albers said that this orange season, growers have had their fair share of trials and tribulations due to Covid. Only the late navels and the summer citrus varieties remain to be harvested between now and late January.
Field service manager for First Fresh NZ, Matthew Carter, said they had actually been pleasantly surprised by the level of flowering so far this spring, given that 2020 was considered an ‘on year'.
“Normally we would expect a lighter flowering after a heavy crop but so far most blocks are reporting good flower numbers for 2021. Of course those flowers still have to set into fruit and it will not be until that happens that we will see how next season is shaping up,” he told gisborneherald.co.nz.
Albers said from a marketing perspective the 2020 season had by all accounts been relatively stable despite the uncertainty of what impact Covid-19 might have on both supply and demand. “On the demand side we saw positive impacts from consumers wanting fruit that was high in Vitamin C, the trend to buying more but shopping less often and increased demand for prepacked fruit where consumers wanted convenience and a ‘one-touch' pick- up. On the negative side the fact that many independent fruit and veg shops weren't able to open during the first lockdown did have an impact on demand for some specific sizes and grades of fruit.”
Sales of navels to Japan were up over 40 percent compared to last year. “The demand for satsuma mandarins through May, June and July was also very good and in fact the demand was so good the season finished two to three weeks earlier than expected and this, combined with a slow start to the Australian imported mandarin programme created good demand for other New Zealand mandarin varieties such as Richard Special, Gold Nugget and Afourer. These varieties are more niche than the standard satsuma varieties but they were in hot demand through July and August,” Albers said.