Get Ready for More Moroccan Oranges as California Takes a Break

Moroccan Oranges
Moroccan Oranges

Get Ready for More Moroccan Oranges as California Takes a Break

In the dynamic world of citrus supply, Morocco, a vital contributor to the US market, is grappling with challenges this season. The persistent drought in the region has taken a toll on the clementine harvest, leading to lower-than-usual volumes reaching the US. Miles Fraser-Jones, representing Sierra Produce, sheds light on the complexities faced by Moroccan growers, who, despite employing cutting-edge irrigation technologies, find themselves battling water scarcity exacerbated by the region’s meager annual rainfall.

As the curtain falls on the Nour clementine harvest, all eyes are now on the Nadorcott mandarins from Morocco. While the crop is expected to align with the usual late-season mandarin variety, there’s a cautious note regarding fruit size, with a potential surge in smaller-sized offerings. Despite these challenges, Sierra Produce remains optimistic, expressing confidence in delivering a batch of high-quality fruit characterized by its vibrant color and elevated brix levels.

Even with diminished volumes from Morocco, the joint forces of Moroccan imports and domestic California supply are poised to meet the ongoing demand in the US market. Fraser-Jones foresees an uptick in demand for Moroccan citrus during the typical January lull in California supply, right before the onset of the mandarin harvest. This scenario presents a golden opportunity for Moroccan citrus to step in and bridge the market gap.

In California, concerns loom over the upcoming clementine/mandarin crop, with the quality and sizing contingent upon unpredictable weather conditions. The potential arrival of storms could temporarily disrupt harvests, giving rise to heightened import demand on the East Coast. Adding to the complexity, a shortage of small-sized Navels in California, driven by rain-induced fruit enlargement, opens a promising window for Morocco. Fraser-Jones enthusiastically highlights Morocco’s offering, emphasizing the excellent quality of late Navel oranges, particularly the Maroc Late variety, available from late March through April and May.

The logistical dance of importing Moroccan citrus involves a two-week journey to the Port of Philadelphia, with additional entry points through the Port of Wilmington. Stringent compliance with import regulations, including cold treatment on board vessels, ensures the fruit meets quality standards before Sierra Produce takes charge of distribution east of the Rockies.

Looking ahead, Fraser-Jones extends an invitation to industry peers to connect at the upcoming Fruit Logistica Berlin. This provides a valuable opportunity to delve into collaborative possibilities and gain insights into the ever-evolving citrus sector.

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