The United States accounted for 85% of the total citrus exports of the shipping company SeaLand in 2017. This market received the first shipment of Chilean lemons under the so-called System Approach. In total, 6,192 kilos entered under this new regulation recognised by the World Trade Organization, and which aims to minimise the risk of pests spreading.
Almost all citrus fruits shipped by SeaLand arrive through ports such as Philadelphia and Long Beach. “At the moment, this market accounts for 85% of our total citrus exports, with lemons and clementines standing out above the rest. In fact, the latter have recorded great growth in the current season,” says Ignacio Urzúa, SeaLand commercial manager in Chile.
The future looks bright. According to figures from the Chilean Citrus Committee, an increase of 17% in the export of citrus fruits is expected for the current season. The most noteworthy growth will be achieved by mandarins (+32%), followed by oranges and clementines. Almost 100% of the latter were exported to the US. In 2017, this country received 225,000 tonnes of Chilean citrus.
One of the main characteristics of export citrus is that during the trip they need to maintain a temperature of between 2 °C and 12 °C, depending on the customer’s demands, and for shipping times and the frequency of these to be under a regular schedule. “The quality of the cargo is vital, so we are continuously innovating in order to have the best tools in the market to protect it. For example, our Remote Container Management (RCM) system allows the customer to monitor the temperature of the container at any time and place, as well as its location and exact conditions. This innovation is a clear example of how technology applied to the shipping industry creates value for our customers, and being pioneers in this gives us pride and strengthens our commitment to continue moving forward,” says Urzúa.
Regarding the future of citrus exports, SeaLand remains optimistic, especially due to the latest citrus variety improvement programs promoted by various organizations in Chile, for which results are expected by 2022.
“Maritime transport is part of the post-harvest of citrus and fruit in general for more than 80% of the production. For this reason, it is important to take care of the cold chain and the handling of the product. We will thus continue working in the optimization of the entire logistics chain and resorting to the best technological tools for the benefit of our customers,” says Urzúa.