Citrus overseas season 2023 - an insight


Update Organic Citrus Overseas

There is a lot of activity on the organic citrus front. Organic citrus specialist Eosta BV in Waddinxveen in The Netherlands is happy to provide a little insight as the season has started.

Gert Kögeler of Eosta always tries to plan ahead for the seasons, but each year more factors come into play. Last year it was strikes, energy prices, the impact of Covid-19 on logistics, and beyond that import measures in the EU that led to the difficult season. The biggest external factor this year is the EU measures on imports of oranges and grapefruits. Gert is less concerned about organic citrus consumption, "Consumers may be more price conscious, but they continue to be increasingly interested in healthy food and a good environment. If we have good and, above all, very tasty citrus produced, we are already 51% ahead. If we then think wisely about units and packaging, it could be another great season."

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Organic Lemons
According to Gert, European organic lemons are ready a little earlier this year than in other years and expects a good season. Some supermarkets and organic retailers have not switched to organic lemons from overseas in the summer in recent years, but have continued to use green Spanish lemons sometimes. The idea was to keep the ball rolling cheaply in the summer. ''We like this idea of course but we did tests ourselves last year at 2 natural food chains with yellow lemons from overseas and green ones from Europe. We found that the lemons from overseas sold much better in kilos, despite the prices. The argument that lemons from overseas have a shorter shelf life is nonsensical, according to Kögeler. In recent years, many organic growers have invested massively in pre- and post-harvest and the juice content, shelf life and quality are excellent.

Kögeler is expecting good crops this year that complement each other well. Harvests will start in the Orange River region in South Africa and at the same time in Peru, and then other regions in South Africa will follow. After that Chile will come on the ball. In parallel we will import Eosta organic lemons from projects in 3 other countries to avoid shortages. It is expected that the first Peruvian lemons will arrive in Europe and week 20. This is a little earlier than previous years because the European Vernas will also be ready earlier. We expect to receive lemons from Peru's Olmos region by the end of the overseas season, which is week 40. The focus with more volume will be until week 30, after which we can welcome mostly Chilean Eurekas.

The first arrivals from South Africa are expected in week 25 and the season will continue until week 40. Calibration is back to normal this season, with most being the ideal size for packing into nets. The political climate seems to have become a bit more stable.

Chilean lemons are mainly available from week 30 to week 42. Again, we expect a normal season with common sizes.

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Currently prices are rising sharply in Spain and availability is decreasing. As the harvests in Europe are somewhat disappointing, we have planned for relatively high volumes from Egypt. The first deliveries are already in and and we will continue until about week 25. The quality and juice content have been very good for years. The farms where we have production are grown biodynamically, so the product can be sold to Demeter customers.

South Africa 
The year 2022 was characterized by extremely high production and volumes from South Africa. The volumes in 2023 will be lower. The cold treatment introduced by the EU last year to protect against the False Codling Moth is still in place. Starting in 2023, exporters can choose between two options: cold treatment between -1 C and 0 C for 16 days or between -1 C and +2 C for 20 days. In both cases, companies must pre-chill at 0 C or +2 C. South African authorities have interpreted this regulation more strictly, resulting in more stringent cold treatment for all types of citrus, except lemons. Under the regulation, South African exporters must ship other citrus fruits, such as grapefruit, at +4 degrees.

Oranges and grapefruits will be damaged if stored at very low temperatures. South African organic citrus growers have therefore decided to use an organic carnauba wax for organic oranges and organic grapefruits. Organic lemons and other soft citrus fruits are not coated.

Eosta expects the first small quantities of South African Navels around week 26/27. In the following weeks the incoming quantities will increase and around week 28-30 Eosta expects the first Valencias.

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Is it possible to make a program with organic grapefruit? In Spain the season is over. The first South African Star Ruby will arrive around week 20 at the earliest, which means that the market will be empty for several weeks. Our South African shipments will continue until about week 38. We will fill the transition back to Spain with Peruvian grapefruits. Organic grapefruit is becoming increasingly popular, according to Kögeler. For example, grapefruit is becoming more common in salads, but it is also becoming more popular for other uses. I see at home that my wife is eating grapefruit for breakfast these days, so it's definitely a trend," he laughs.

Organic Mandarins
Until now, mandarins have been a seasonal product for winter but here Eosta is trying to extend the season. Here Kögeler sees things very positively: "Delicious organic Easy Pealers are increasingly being eaten by school children and as a snack, for example. Our season for South African mandarins is short, but it is completely pre-programmed. Eosta we only carry the top varieties Nadorcott and Tango from South Africa.

Natural Branding for organic citrus
Gert has high hopes for the new laser technology for citrus. Until now, Natural Branding has not been able to apply it to citrus without affecting shelf life. But now there is a new technique where the laser removes such a small layer of pigment that the fruit does not suffer at all," he concludes.

Contact your Eosta account manager for all the details or send us an email: info@eosta.com