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Report: Easy-peelers to surpass navels as top consumed citrus in U.S.

The sustained popularity of easy-peel citrus varieties should result in them surpassing navel oranges in the next few years as the most consumed fresh citrus in the U.S., according to Rabobank research.

In an April report, the company showed South America has greatly increased its exports in the past five years. Since the mid-1990s, U.S. mandarin consumption has surpassed domestic production, and now imports account for about one-third of domestic consumption.

“Availability of mandarins in the U.S. increased at a compound annual growth rate of 6% during the past decade to about 7 pounds per person per year. If the trend continues, in the next few years mandarins will surpass oranges as the most-consumed fresh citrus in the U.S. The attractive combination of convenience, healthfulness, and taste will continue driving consumer demand for mandarins in the U.S.”

Acreage in California has increased more than sixfold in the past 20 years, reaching 67,000 acres in 2021, while acreage in Florida has declined due to phytosanitary pressures, the report said.

The report projects a favorable year for easy-peel citrus in the U.S. but not for Europe.

“The 2022 season will present some extremes: shortages in the U.S. and potential oversupply in Europe. While demand in the U.S. market will remain strong and U.S. domestic citrus supply will hit a record low, Chilean easy-peeler exports are expected to decrease. Therefore, after the Moroccan easy-peel citrus season is finished, prices should remain high for the first half of the Southern Hemisphere season.”

It said Russia was a strong market for easy-peel citrus, and with the Ukraine war limiting exports there, the rest of Europe could see an oversupply situation.

Easy-peel citrus are generically known as mandarins, include clementines, tangerines, tangelos, and more.

Greg Johnson is Director of Media Development for Blue Book Services