Chilean shippers and industry officials are declaring the inaugural season of Chilean navel orange shipments to the U.S. a resounding success.

Through Oct. 6, about 23,000 tons of fresh Chilean navels had arrived in the U.S., according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That exceeds by 3,000 tons the industry’s goal for the summer, Tom Tjerandsen, president of the Sonoma, Calif.-based Chilean Fresh Fruit Association, said in a news release.

In May, the USDA gave the green light for orange and grapefruit imports from Chile.
In addition, about 32,000 tons of clementines, 15,000 tons of lemons and 2,600 tons of tangerines also made their way from Chile to the U.S. this summer. Clementine shipments, Tjerandsen said, are up 600% from last year.

That makes the summer of 2009 “the most prolific season ever” for Chilean citrus exports to the U.S., Tjerandsen said.

Ronald Bown, chairman of the Santiago-based Chilean Association of Exporters (ASOEX), praised the patience of shippers, who waited until fruit was big and of optimum quality before they shipped it.

“You are only new once, and we stressed this to the growers and exporters to avoid negative first impressions of early season fruit,” he said in the release.

First Chilean navel season exceeds expectations