Summer Citrus From South Africa Shares Highlights About the Upcoming Season
CITRUSDAL, SOUTH AFRICA - Summer Citrus from South Africa (SCSA) is celebrating more than just what’s looking to be another great season; the citrus importer is welcoming its 20th year serving the U.S. with fresh summer citrus. Earlier this month, SCSA met in Citrusdal, South Africa, to map out and prepare for this summer's season. Here are a few highlights from that planning sesh!
“As an association now in its twentieth season serving the U.S. market, we have faced a lot of challenges. By facing those challenges, we’ve established a successful model of collaboration and must not forget the lessons we’ve learned. We need to stay at the forefront of where the market is going and innovate along the way,” said Suhanra Conradie, Chief Executive Officer of SCSA. “What some view as a group of competitors, both on the production and importing side of our business, must be viewed as a collaborative effort with one mission in mind and that is to provide our friends in the U.S. with a stable and high quality supply of citrus during the summer months.”
The planning session kicked off with a warm welcome from Boet Mouton, SCSA’s Chairman of the Board of Directors. In his opening speech, Mouton touched on the importance of importer partners when it comes to delivering deliciously sweet tasting citrus to U.S. consumers during the summer months. He also outlined ways in which SCSA is seeking to increase sales and demand of easy peelers and mandarins via retail promotional plans. According to a press release, South Africa is the second largest exporter of citrus globally, which Mouton would like to capitalize on in 2019 with his goal of increasing market share for the country’s fruit in the U.S.
Gerrit van der Merwe Jr., another member of SCSA’s Board of Directors, was also in attendance, celebrating Citrusdal as the heart of South Africa’s citrus production. This season marks a victory for South Africa’s citrus growers as the country has just emerged from a three-year drought and, as such, many SCSA growers are looking forward to the “first proper citrus crop without any water restrictions.” van der Merwe believes this could lead to significant growth in mandarin production.
Erin Meder, General Manager of Caprespan North America, was the featured speaker at this year’s planning session, touching on the significance of a cohesive grower model by defining South Africa’s grower collaboration as a “self-regulated honor system” with a unified voices. As a result, importers are able to solve problems as they arise and provide a healthy supply and elevated level of quality in both flavor and appearance of popular citrus fruits to retail partners in the U.S. from June to October.
Megan Zweig, Vice President of DMA Solutions, brought a marketing perspective to the table, explaining the importance of branding SCSA during the summer months both to retailers and consumers alike. She described how important it is to position fruit from South Africa as “special” and a “unique experience” when merchandising to the U.S.
Mayda Sotomayor-Kirk, Chief Executive Officer of Seald Sweet and one of the original champions of SCSA’s collaboration, underlined the significance of the farming work being done in Citrusdal by SCSA farmers. She stated how this special group is built on a foundation of collaboration, state-of-the-art sustainability practices, and logistics solutions. She also shared how challenging the U.S. market can be, while still encouraging stakeholders to see the bounty of opportunities available.
Chris Cockle, Senior Director of Imports for Wonderful Citrus, was present to provide insights on the overall summer citrus category, including a category outlook for the future and an overview of the upcoming summer season for the Halos brand. Wonderful Citrus started packing South African citrus in the Halos brand in 2018, and Chris is one of many looking forward to a brilliant summer season ahead.
If you missed out on the planning session and just so happen to be at Viva Fresh, be sure to stop by booth #34 on Saturday, April 27, at 2:30 pm for a champagne toast to commemorate SCSA’s 20th season.
If you won’t be in San Antonio this weekend, look for SCSA’s bi-weekly trade newsletters in your inbox, with crop updates, availability, promotional efforts, grower spotlights, and more.
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