Chilean Citrus Season Projects Volume Increase to the U.S. Market

In its initial forecast for the 2021 season, the Chilean Citrus Committee of ASOEX estimates a six percent increase in citrus exports, encompassing navels, lemons, and easy peelers (clementines and mandarins). With a total citrus forecast of 387,000 tons, Chile expects to ship roughly 85 percent of all volume to the U.S. market.

As in previous seasons, growth will continue to be driven by the easy peeler category, with a projected seven percent increase for clementines (rising to 55,000 tons) and an 11 percent increase for mandarins (up to 145,000 tons).  This estimated double-digit growth for mandarins in 2021 follows an incredible 40% volume jump in 2020.

Lemons (of which an estimated 60% will be shipped to the U.S.) are expected to see a three percent increase, while navel volume will stay relatively the same, at around 89,000 tons.

According to the Committee, the overall increase in volume is due primarily to the expansion of plantings over the past decade as there are 55,105 acres of citrus in Chile.

Juan Enrique Ortuzar, president of the Chilean Citrus Committee, notes that favorable weather conditions have had a positive impact on this year’s crop. “Last year’s rain in the central region replenished reservoirs and helped boost production. Growing conditions have been ideal for developing good brix and sizing, while cool nights will give easy peelers and navels a brilliant orange color.”

While retail promotions in previous seasons featured a strong in-store component, the Citrus Committee moved completely online in 2020 due to COVID-19.  Karen Brux, Managing Director of the Chilean Fresh Fruit Association states, “We partnered with nearly 50 retail chains last season, employing such tactics as digital coupons, web sliders, banner ads, retail-tagged videos and social media programs. Not only were these strategies highly effective in driving sales, they were also powerful in reaching millions of shoppers with citrus nutrition and usage information.”  The Committee will expand on these promotions in 2021 and add new e-commerce initiatives.  For retailers wanting to promote in-store, merchandising support will be available.  Adds Brux, “We’re continually monitoring retail and consumer shifts so that we can provide the best support, both for the Chilean citrus growers and exporters and our partners in North America.”

Clementine shipments are expected to start in Week 15, while lemons will commence around Week 18.  The Committee will send more detailed information on all citrus categories as the season progresses, with weekly crop updates beginning Week 18.