Clementine importers report a smooth transition from Chile and New Zealand to Spain, with promotable volumes of high-quality fruit available for the holidays.

DNE World Fruit Sales, Fort Pierce, Fla., expects to receive its first shipments of Spanish clementines on or before Nov. 1, right on time, said John Lazopoulos, Spanish and Moroccan import manager.

Early volumes won’t be nearly enough to fill the pipeline, Lazopoulos said.

“There’s very good demand, a lot of interest,” he said.

The marisol variety will dominate the early Spanish deal, Lazopoulos said. Early reports indicate very good quality, color and size profile, he said.

There should be no gap in clementine availability, with Chile finishing the week of Oct. 24 and Spain starting the following week, said Luke Sears, president of LGS Specialty Sales Ltd., New York.

Brix levels of 11 were reported on early-season fruit, Sears said, and volumes were expected to be comparable to last season.

“Prices are reasonable, and I think there are a lot of people interested in advertising,” he said. “I anticipate a good season.”

A late start to the California deal could limit West Coast shipments to the East Coast for Thanksgiving, leaving Spain to carry the load, Lazopoulos said.

On Oct. 25, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported a price of $36 for 10 3-pound bags of clementines 18-28s from Chile, up from $32-34 last year at the same time.

California growers were shipping satsumas in October, with clementines beginning in a light way the week of Oct. 24, said Bob Blakeley, director of industry relations for Exeter-based California Citrus Mutual.

Clementines will likely ship through the holidays, with murcotts taking over into April or May, Blakely said. Lighter sets in some blocks would likely be more than offset by increased acreage, leading to higher production in 2011-12.

“It’s been growing exponentially for the past 10 or 12 years,” Blakely said. “There were 3,000 or 4,000 acres ten years ago. Now it’s approaching 40,000.”

California growers are reporting good quality and slightly better sizing than last season, Blakely said.

Lazopoulos expected abundant three-pound bag promotions in December for Spanish fruit.

DNE’s Moroccan clementine deal is expected to be smaller this season due to excessive heat during the growing season, Lazopoulos said. Fruit wasn’t sizing, and harvest had stopped, creating a supply gap the week of Oct. 24.

Lazopoulos reported a smooth transition from Chile to Spain and Morocco this year. An outstanding Chilean season should help pave the way for succeeding deals.

“There was exceptional quality from Chile,” he said. “The trade was very pleased.”