The overseas citrus market started in week 17 at Origin Fruit Direct in the Netherlands. That's when the first South African grapefruit arrived. "We'd expected to start even earlier. But shipments were unreliable, especially in the beginning. There weren't enough containers available to get the fruit out of the ports. The situation's improved somewhat. Shipping is, however, still the biggest bottleneck. It works to our benefit that shipping companies are willing to ship to Europe. The containers can then be returned quickly", says Gijsbert van Leeuwen.
"The season's begun with larger volumes. But the market and sales are good. Prices aren't extreme; they're still between €16 and €18/box." The first South African lemons are currently being shipped too. "Spain has a large production of Verna lemons. These are, however, of much lower quality than the Primofiori. They had frost at the beginning of this year. So, the quality's even lower, and there are far more large sizes."
"That generates demand for good overseas lemons. There are trade barriers concerning lemon imports from Argentine to Europe. Those are leading to uncertainty. That creates chances for exporting South African lemons to Europe. Trade flows have shifted. There's, therefore, also more pressure on other destinations," says Gijsbert.
Origin Fruit is currently receiving Satsuma and Clemensol mandarins too. These come from Peru and South Africa. "Spain's done with Nadorcott and Orri. Then, there's usually a gap. So, there's good demand for mandarins."
"Prices are good, at €14 to €16 per box. The last Egyptian and Spanish oranges are now coming onto the market," continues the importer. "And next week, the first navels will arrive from South Africa. I think orange sales are still somewhat disappointing. It's difficult to pinpoint the reason. But various quarters report that sales are mediocre."
Gijsbert doubts it'll be a repeat of last year. Then, there was a sky-high demand for, especially, overseas oranges. "Anyway, there's now more supply from Spain and Egypt. Also, South Africa expects a good harvest. Last year we saw what an effect opening the terraces had. That was on sales to the foodservice and hospitality industry. That depends on the COVID-19 measures taken this summer. It'll affect lemons and grapefruit too. But I don't see an extreme year like last season suddenly happening again," he concludes.