The Jaffa season has begun with the first arrival of white grapefruit. Quality is reported to be good, with fruit making between £8 and £9 a carton on the wholesale markets. However, citrus crop estimates indicate a shortage of larger sizes later in the year. Despite the confident start the trade view continues that it could be a difficult season. The high value of the shekel makes it is difficult for growers to cover costs and some Jaffa citrus range may also come under pressure, particularly the green skinned sweetie. Importer Alan Kaye, UK manager of Tnuport, said that while there had been several strong promotional packages over many years, the green skinned sweetie had failed to really appeal to English consumers. There was also the pressure of a booming market in Japan. Kaye added: "We will be importing some fruit in January when it has been left on the tree and coloured." Of greater concern is the future of the shamouti, the thick-skinned oval orange which gave Israel its brand name. Kaye, who will handle a million cartons of all varieties this season, said: "It is possible that the variety will take a back seat this season because competition from Spain is immense. It remains to be seen whether this uniqueness is enough." Kaye believes more fruit will be programmed for individual customers because of the closure of the UK promotions and marketing office. {{FRESH PRODUCE }}