Importers of Spanish clementines expect robust demand for promotable volumes of high-quality fruit.

DNE World Fruit Sales, Fort Pierce, Fla., expected to begin shipping its first Spanish clementines of the season late the week of Oct. 28, right on time, said John Lazopoulos, Spanish and Moroccan import manager.

Four vessels in all should arrive by Nov. 20, which should guarantee promotable supplies by Thanksgiving, Lazopoulos said.

“Things are looking good — we’re pre-booking already,” he said Oct. 28. “A lot of customers who supported our summer citrus program will be transitioning to Spain in the next two weeks.”

The Chilean deal was running later than usual, with arrivals continuing into late October, said Luke Sears, president of LGS Specialty Sales Ltd., New York.

In addition, Moroccan fruit was in the market, giving buyers three sources to choose from, Sears said. Markets would likely come down as a result, he said.

“They’ve been very high with the murcotts, and I think that with Spain and Morocco, markets will settle in at more historical figures,” Sears said Oct. 28.

On Oct. 29, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of $28-32 for 10 3-pound mesh bags of Chilean clementines 20-40s, down from $36 last year for product sold on the Philadelphia terminal market.

Spain and Morocco would likely dominate the 5-pound box market, while Chile, with its smaller size profile, will trend toward bag programs for the balance of the deal, Sears said.

Between Spain, Morocco and Chile, there will be plenty of imported clementines for holiday promotions, said Michael Schiro, berry and clementine category manager for Jac Vandenberg Inc., Yonkers, N.Y. But movement, he said, should still be brisk.

“We’re anticipating good demand.”

Early-season Spanish fruit should peak on 24s and 28s, just what retailers want, Schiro said. Sugar levels should also be high. Jac Vandenberg expects volumes similar to last season, with Spanish product likely shipping through January, Schiro said.

DNE expects sales of its 3- and 2-pound Spanish clementine bags to continue growing this season.

Spain has enjoyed good growing weather this season, and Lazopoulos expects good quality and color and bigger sizes than Chile, which should be out of the deal by about mid-November.

With Chilean volumes in decline as Spain kicks off, Lazopoulos expects brisk movement out of the gate. As usual, California clementines will dominate in the West and Midwest, leaving the East Coast and the South to Spain, he said.

DNE expects to bring in more Spanish clementines this season, but industry-wide, volumes should be similar to last season, Lazopoulos said. Exchange rates could keep volumes to North America in check in 2013-14.

“The strength of the Euro makes it a little more difficult to ship here,” Lazopoulos said.

While that could have an effect later in the deal, volumes on the first two vessels of Spanish fruit suggested that it wasn’t having an effect yet, Sears said.

What could bring volumes down, though, Sears said, was warm growing weather in October, which was preventing some fruit slated to arrive just before Thanksgiving from coloring.