Seald Sweet International has welcomed the news that, after nearly a decade of pest assessments and risk mitigation evaluations, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has published a final rule in the Federal Register approving citrus exports from Uruguay to the continental US.
The ruling has been "long-awaited", the group noted, following years of setbacks, but the USDA requirement of due diligence being met and market access being approved is now a reality.
"We are so excited that the ruling we have been pursuing over the last ten years is finally being passed," said Mayda Sotomayor, chief executive of Seald Sweet. "The quality of citrus is outstanding and the availability of certain commodities nicely complements existing summer citrus programmes, which enables us to continue building the category. For example, the Salustiana navel from Uruguay has fantastic exterior appearance and excellent interior eating quality."
Sotomayor pointed to Uruguay's lengthy history as a citrus-producing country, highlighting in particular the well-established supply channels the country has in the European market, where quality demands are high.
"This new market access is very positive in regards to US interests as well as beneficial to the Uruguayan farmers," she said.
The ruling allows importers such as Seald Sweet to grow the citrus category with year-round availability in the US market, while also giving Uruguayan farmers the opportunity to develop a new market.
"We are very grateful for the efforts of the US ambassador to Uruguay, Julissa Reynoso," said Bruce McEvoy, director of global affairs for Seald Sweet and the Univeg Group. "She played a major role in facilitating the rule-making process and keeping the flow of processes moving along.”
The effective date for the new Rule is 9 August 2013, and the first shipments should take place by mid-August, meaning the first commercial shipments should arrive in early September on the US East Coast.