Lone Star Citrus' Winter Sweetz Texas Grapefruit Named as Two Category Finalists for Viva Fresh Expo's Gateway to Innovation Awards

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Wed. April 4th, 2018 - by Jessica Donnel

MCALLEN, TX - With this year’s Viva Fresh show floor just days away, the produce industry has been buzzing with excitement to see what Texas’ finest have brought to the table, and this year to up the ante on said excitement is the debut of the Viva Fresh Expo’s Gateway to Innovation Awards. Recognizing excellence in areas like packaging design, new product development, food safety, machinery, software, and technology, Viva Fresh’s panel of industry judges selected Lone Star Citrus’ Winter Sweetz Texas Red grapefruit as a finalist for not one, but two categories—Most Innovative Fruit Product and Most Innovative Packaging or POS. I spoke with Director of Marketing April Flowers to find out just what it takes to be one of the best of the best in the Tex-Mex produce corridor.

April Flowers, Director of Marketing, Lone Star Citrus“We are thrilled to be finalists in both categories,” April tells me when I ask her what the company’s initial reaction was to the news it had made the finalist list. “Award showcases like this are an excellent way to share our product and marketing efforts with our industry peers, and it certainly reinforces our belief that we are moving in the right direction as both a company and a brand.”

To be considered as Most Innovative Fruit Product is no small feat, especially when entering under the grapefruit category, April tells me. Grapefruit flavor is influenced by growing region, color, variety, and season, which can often leave the general consumer confused about which grapefruit they should buy. What sets Winter Sweetz apart is that it takes the guesswork out of the equation.

5 lb Winter Sweetz Texas Grapefruit Bag

“Winter Sweetz branding was created to clarify the grapefruit category in a way that had never before been done. To simplify the category and help the consumer overcome the purchase barrier, we’ve combined Texas origin, strong taste cues, and winter seasonality into fun and memorable graphics,” she explains. “We could have stopped there, but our end goal is to cultivate life-long grapefruit fans, even among those who believe that they do not like it. To that end, our consumer campaigns focuses on education and support. We are deeply committed to changing the entire conversation surrounding grapefruit, and we’ve taken on the challenge of elevating grapefruit and introducing it to a new generation of fans.”

As far as fitting the bill for Most Innovative Packaging or POS, Winter Sweetz is pushing industry standards forward, marrying both form and function; creativity with clarity.

Tequila Fish Tacos Grapefruit Salsa

“In terms of technical layout design, we’ve utilized a creative and incredibly simple layout solution that allows us to maximize available space in order to produce a powerful design while keeping the retailer’s needs in mind,” April says. “We walked a lot of produce aisles as we were researching and gathering ideas, and what we learned is that when the full front panel is entirely utilized for graphics, produce managers often display bags upside down in order to show the contents. To this end, we included a sizable window in the design that would show the bag’s contents while leaving ample room for graphics and key messaging. We also noticed that while most bags are designed in portrait orientation, they are almost always displayed horizontally. The solution was a landscape orientation with upper-right window and L-shaped graphic space.”

Lone Star Citrus Grapefruit

And as far as the graphic design and copy featured on the packaging, Winter Sweetz quite literally speaks to consumers through the use of speech bubbles. April tells me that Lone Star Citrus is well aware that many consumers bring pre-conceived notions of grapefruits past with them, so it was imperative to restart the conversation on a different note.

“I was very insistent that we use the word ‘surprising’ in our key messaging, because that is the number one reaction we get from people who try our product for the first time,” she continues. “Our tagline: ‘surprizingly sweet with a hint of zing,’ helps the customer move past that purchase barrier and approach our product with an open mind. They often find that they do like grapefruit, but they just didn’t know it.”

Grapefruit Pistachio Bakes Brie

So how does Lone Star Citrus plan to keep the momentum for Winter Sweetz going after the Viva Fresh buzz dies down? April tells me the company has recently launched an in-bound marketing program that allows Lone Star to continually nurture its mega-fans, sharing new recipes, ideas, and building on its presence in the blogosphere and on social media.

“Reception has been excellent, and I credit a large part of that success to our partnerships with various food bloggers and social media influencers. They have been genuinely enthusiastic brand supporters and advocates and their audiences trust them. We’ve asked them to focus on breaking grapefruit free from the confines of the breakfast table, and into lunch, snack, and dinner menus, which has been very well received. Millennials and Gen X-ers are hungry for new flavors and inventive uses of familiar foods, so the time couldn’t be better for reframing the conversation around grapefruit.”

Winter Sweetz Grapefruit Segments

Want to learn more about what had Viva Fresh’s panel of judges so enamored? Visit Lone Star at booth #79 on the show floor to talk to the team and try Winter Sweetz at a sponsored pop-up demo from JW Marriott's chef outside Viva Fresh's retailer speed meetings. AndNowUKnow will see you there!

Lone Star Citrus