A Melbourne-based wholesale company is expecting the popularity of its Australian-grown seedless Valencia oranges to be high over the coming months.
Louis Melbourne Business Development Manager Nuwan Talpawila says consumer demand for the citrus variety will be at its peak during summer as it is the only domestically-grown orange available at the time.
"It is a clear winner with price and quality when compared to imported oranges," he said. "Even though the wind was more consistent during this growing season the Valencia oranges have not been affected and are generally clean skinned. Our supply partner Venus Citrus have told us the season this year is very similar (in volume) to the previous seasons."
He explains that Louis Melbourne sources the seedless Valencia oranges from its supply partner Venus Citrus, and all their fruit is grown in the Loxton area located in South Australia.
"Louis Melbourne also sources citrus from Queensland and Sunraysia regions," Mr Talpawila said. "We also have the ability to source citrus internationally to give supply all year round. The last winter citrus season has been a pretty 'normal' season. Last year was a rare occasion where winter citrus ran a bit longer than this year."
Louis Melbourne has 40 years’ experience in horticulture and 30 years of wholesale produce trading and distribution, according to Mr. Talpawila, specializing in grapes, citrus, apples and pears and a range of summer fruits like cherries, mangoes, and stone fruit.
"We have a reputation for a profound understanding of buying and demand cycles," he said. "We have specialised our service to cater to our customers, growers, and major retailers. Our network partners Australia wide and international gives us the ability to supply fruit all years round."
This year has been challenging for a lot of companies, with lockdowns and restrictions being imposed in many states due to the coronavirus. Mr Talpawila says Louis Melbourne also had to adapt to the impacts felt by its clients, with many foodservice operations forced to close for many months.
"COVID-19 did not affect the supply of any produce for us but our provedore customer base was brought to a halt due to the restrictions," he said. "Like many businesses we had a strict COVID-19 plan in place to ensure the whole team stay safe during the pandemic."
With the effects of the lockdowns easing in the past few months, it has given fresh produce businesses the chance to begin the recovery over the summer months.
"Summer excites us as it means all the stone fruit, mangoes and grape season will be at peak of supply to meet the increased demand of the warmer weather months," Mr Talpawila said.
According to the latest Hort Innovation statistics, 39,945 tonnes of Valencia oranges were produced overall in Australia in the year ending June 2019. While this accounted for less than 15 per cent of fresh production, compared to mainly Navel, Valencia oranges mostly go to the processing/juicing market.