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Tight citrus supplies and high pricing until new crop kicks off

Supplies of citrus look like they will continue to be tight. “The lack of water and high temperatures have greatly affected the upcoming season for oranges. We’re expecting to see lighter supplies in the beginning of the season with more availability on smaller fruit,” said Donald Russo, senior category manager, produce, Baldor Specialty Foods. “With regard to lemons, we’re expecting a season on par with what’s typical, barring any unforeseen weather.”

Left: navel oranges; right: pomelo fruit. 

Supplies of citrus are already slim, particularly on oranges. Russo says that late-season pack outs are very low with the California Valencia season ending early and imports are pretty much finished. “Fruit does typically get somewhat tight during this time period, but we are seeing it as lighter than normal,” he says.

Right now, California navels are three to four weeks away from starting out of Oxnard and Fresno while lemons are coming from Argentina, Chile and Mexico. Some Australian or Chilean navel oranges are still going but they are wrapping up.

Specialty varieties coming up
Along with new crop navels, specialty varieties are on deck as well with Buddha's hand, Etrogs, Bergamot oranges, Meyer and pink lemons, Yuzus and Florida pomelos all starting in October. Satsuma mandarins will begin in November. At the same time, Russo notes that seedless lemons are growing in popularity.

Right: Buddha's hand

As for citrus demand, it is strong right now. “We have a lot happening at once: kids are back to school and corporate cafeterias are back online as more workers return to the office. Retail demand has also been very strong,” says Russo. “Meanwhile growers in California are faced with water shortages and overall reduced acreage. We see consumption continue to strengthen based on the above factors.”

All of this means prices are higher given there’s not enough fruit available. “Looking ahead, expect extremely tight supplies. Pricing will be high until the new crop starts,” says Russo.

For more information:
Baldor Specialty Foods 

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