Growers and shippers agree that Peru’s citrus volumes are increasing.

Chincha, Peru-based La Calera plans to double its citrus production by 2016, according to Estuardo Masias, co-owner and chief executive officer.

The company now has 4,000 acres of citrus, along with more than 1,000 acres for grapes and avocados.

The growth will be centered on clementines, w. murcotts and mandarins in general, Masias said.

The company recently purchased the rights to two new varieties, the Or clementine from the Citrus Marketing Board of Israel, and the Bela satsuma from Citrus Genesis in Spain.

“These additions to our already wide citrus varietal selection enable us to offer a broad window of seedless tangerines through the year,” Masias said.

The company has only been shipping citrus to the U.S. since 2006, but is already optimistic about their established place in the market.

Masias reports that his company ships nearly 30% of Peru’s citrus exports to the U.S.

Clementine demand

Seald Sweet International, Vero Beach, Fla., also plans to increase its Peruvian citrus volume.

“Increased popularity of clementines in the U.S. market should support this market,” said Kim Flores, marketing manager.

“Peruvian minneolas have traditionally been the primary citrus export commodity.

“However, we are seeing increased production and new plantings of clementines and w. murcott varieties in Peru, which will help to supply the growing demand in the U.S. market for the easy-peel category,” Flores said.

“The Peruvian companies are very sophisticated,” said Mark Greenberg, president of Fisher Capespan, St. Laurent, Quebec.

“We’ve been building our Peru business since its early days in the U.S. They have excellent growers and excellent citrus,” he said.

Nelly Yunta, vice president of U.S. imports, customs brokerage and consulting for Customized Brokers, a Miami-based Crowley Maritime company, said she has noticed Peru’s expansion into the citrus market.

“Peru is diversifying quite a bit,” Yunta said.

“We’re impressed with the way they handle their product. It’s well organized and well prepared.”

Cultivating quality

Jeff Miller, president of Westlake Produce Co., Los Angeles, agreed that Peru is working to become a larger player in summer citrus.

“Peru in general is working very hard to improve their quality,” Miller said.

“They increase their volume to the U.S. every year.”

Miller said his company has imported from Peru for about four years now and is pleased with the partnership.

“They are learning what we expect as far as quality is concerned,” he said.

Mark Hanks, vice president of North American sales and marketing for DNE World Fruit LLC, Fort Pierce, Fla., said he’s seen that more companies are working with Peru for citrus.

“It’s been fairly consistent in volumes, not a radical increase, but we’re seeing more of the mandarins as they come into production there.”

Hanks said DNE hopes to get more involved in the Peruvian deal in the future.

Yunta said logistics can be a challenge in the expanding market.

“It takes approximately 17-20 days, depending, but we are looking to improve and provide better options,” she said.

“Any options you can give for logistics are always good.”

She said companies work to improve transportation ease and speed.

“Carriers are always looking to have more options and faster transit to the U.S.”