Dollar, drought hamper California orange imports

With no end to the California water shortage in sight, orange imports into Canada out of the state continue to suffer from lower volumes and high prices.

“We’re probably on track for the same volume as last year,” says Ted Cira of Dominion Citrus, a buyer/supplier based out of Toronto, ON. Dominion’s 2014 volumes – approximately 60,000 cartons – are dramatically lower than the company’s 2012 and 2013 numbers. Cira explains that prior to the drought, Dominion traded at a minimum of 70,000 cartons each year.

Sizing and price affect sales
As the long-term realities of the California drought have set in, the region’s orange growers have increasingly relied on water management systems. Water portioning, in turn, has affected 2015 crop sizing. “On large sizing, it’s very limited right now,” says Cira, adding that several of his company’s smaller, independent buyers prefer larger oranges.

Cira explains that the depressed Canadian dollar, which hovered around 75 cents US through most of November, has also affected Domnion’s orange program. Last year, Cira’s company sold 40 lb. cartons at around $26.00 (CAD) per unit. This year, that price has climbed as high as $34.00 (CAD). “Basically, you’re looking at a $7.00 fluctuation on average,” says Cira.

These changes have affected Dominion’s sales, though not drastically. Says Cira, “We’re seeing a little bit of a drop in sales due to sizing and pricing.”

Choice grade improved, market projects well

Cira says that this year has come with its positives, as his company’s Choice grade fruit – typically marked by small blemishes or imperfections – has improved in quality. “This year the choice is coming in a little bit cleaner.”

Despite the market’s issues, Cira believes Dominion will see strong results from the 2015 season. “Orange is a very strong program for us… As long as the weather holds up and as long as the exchange rate stays stable, we should be in good shape.”

For more information:
Ted Cira
Dominion Citrus
Tel: +1 416-259-6328

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