Sunkist's Christina Ward and Sun Pacific's Dave Medders Talk Changing Citrus Seasons
- by Maggie Mead
NORTH AND SOUTH AMERICA - Citrus holds a special place in my heart, because I’m a little OCD about removing every scrap of pith, so peeling and eating a citrus fruit is both a fun activity and a snack! But as the seasons change, so too does the market, and knowing which way the wind is blowing is essential to planning produce promotion.
Christina Ward, Director of Communications for Sunkist, informed me that this is the time of year when the company celebrates its summer citrus, while preparing for the upcoming season. Sourcing its citrus from family farms in California and Arizona, the weather in Sunkist’s growing regions was slightly cooler than normal—which actually helped to maintain the excellent quality and vitality of its citrus.
According to Christina, demand and prices have been flat industry-wide, but Sunkist continues to see promotional volumes of Valencia oranges and California Star Ruby grapefruit. Along with those varieties, Sunkist also produces lemons, limes, and a range of organic citrus. The company also has good news for consumers looking to get their hands on Sunkist citrus, as well as inspiration for how to use it—teasing recipes like Spicy Grapefruit Guacamole and Cranberry, Orange, Walnut, & Goat Cheese Dip.
“Sunkist lemons, California Star Ruby grapefruit, Valencia oranges, and limes are available now. Sunkist grapefruit, lemons, and limes are accessible year-round, while Valencia oranges are a summertime squeeze,” Christina said. “These varieties are perfect for warm evenings, backyard BBQs, and family get-togethers—pretty much all the things that are best shared over citrus.”
Representing another citrus sector, Dave Medders, Vice President of Sales for Sun Pacific, explained to me the ins and outs of this year’s clementine and mandarin season. According to Dave, the grower’s clementine harvest in Chile has come to a close, but harvest of Tango and Murcott mandarins has officially kicked off. Harvesting its fruit out of the north and central regions of Chile, there were a few early-season storms early in the clementine harvest that resulted in some delays, but things have mostly been steady since then, and the weather has been good for the Tango/Murcott harvest.
Dave mentioned that Sun Pacific’s strict specifications have ensured a consistent quality, year after year. The entire clementine season saw steady prices and demand, but lately, demand has increased due to a decrease in supply.
“The market is tight due to yields being down compared to original forecasts, and because we are currently in the gap period between clementine season and Tango/Murcott season,” Dave explained. “There will be no promotional volume over the next three weeks, but we will have promotional supply once we get to September as Tangos and Murcotts arrive.”
However, he informed me that the initial reports of the incoming Tango and Murcott crops look extremely promising, describing excellent quality fruit with high brix levels set to hit stores in week 33.
With exceptional citrus in stores year-round, thanks to dedicated growers and producers, there are endless opportunities to tempt consumers with tart treats that they can add to desserts, savory dishes, or, dare I say, cocktails?
For more market updates, keep reading AndNowUKnow.