Cherie France and Craig Morris of Homegrown Organic Farms Talk Availability, Marketing, and More
- by Maggie Mead
PORTERVILLE, CA - Bright, sharp, and a little bit tart, citrus fruits are a year-round snack that get me hyped. Who doesn’t love some OJ with breakfast? Or a little lime in their cocktails? Obviously there are more applications for citrus, those are just some of my personal favorites. With some kind of citrus fruit available 52 weeks out of the year, the demand for the peel-and-eat treats rarely wanes. I spoke with Cherie France, Marketing Manager, and Craig Morris, Citrus Category Director, of Homegrown Organic Farms about the expert citrus producer’s approach to organic citrus.
“Historically there has not been a consistent supply to the respective seasons, and that’s something we have done with our growth over the last 10 years—that we have promotional type volumes of all the varieties we produce,” said Craig.
Homegrown Organic produces a wide array of citrus fruits, including organic navels, valencias, lemons, cara cara, grapefruit, blood oranges, pummelos, satsumas, clementines, W. Murcotts, gold nugget, and limes. The peak season for citrus falls between December and April, though Homegrown Organic produces fruit all year round. The company grows almost exclusively in California (the limes are grown in Mexico), where it uses the climate to its advantage, opportunistically growing citrus in desert regions and continuously growing in the Southern California regions.
“It’s how we grow our products that’s definitely unique,” continued Craig. “It’s safe, healthy, and organic; we tend to pick very close to market, and we tend to harvest when the fruit’s at its optimal maturity. So we believe we provide a much better day-in and day-out eating experience.”
With a quickly growing population of health-conscious consumers, Homegrown Organic has answered the call with its wide selection of fruit grown organically with an attention to detail.
“Just like anything organic, demand continues to grow and the response from organic consumers has been outstanding, they seem to be much more sophisticated than your normal conventional consumer and they really care about where the food comes from,” said Craig.
“With organic farming, you can’t just be in it for the dollar, you have to be a professional farmer to farm organically. It takes a higher level of farming and expertise to bring good products to the retailer and to the consumer,” commented Cherie.
Retailers can rejoice over the citrus providers, who have kept retail needs in mind when designing packaging options including full cartons, half cartons, 10 lb boxes, and bags in sizes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 8 lbs, as well as a number of club sized packs for retailers.
“It’s really catering to what the retailer needs or what our customer needs are and try to service those the best we can,” said Cherie.
Marketing is headed more in the direction of the “pouch bag,” a user-friendly and attractive display option. These bags showcase the fruit better than the traditional mesh bags, said Cherie, “it showcases the fruit in a more visually appealing way.” But don’t think the company has forgotten about placement when it comes to merchandising at retail.
“Front and center is always really important. I would always try to use a slightly smaller selling unit compared to the conventional,” commented Craig. “That’s so you can shrink the margins between conventional and organic.”
At the moment, Homegrown Organics is only 30 percent of the way through its crop, with a long way to go, though the fruit is currently at its optimal maturity, which will continue throughout the season.
“The conditions are outstanding, it’s the time to promote organic citrus,” concluded Craig.
AndNowUKnow will continue to report on all things citrus.