Dracula Citrus takes flight in North America
In the dynamic realm of imported produce, Dracula Citrus emerges as a notable contender, harnessing the distinct characteristics of blood oranges. Robert Pena, business development for Dracula Citrus, brings to the table an extensive 37-year background in both foodservice and retail. His seasoned expertise provides valuable insights into the brand's journey, partnerships and ambitious plans. Pinnacle Fresh, the owner of the Dracula Citrus brand developed it in 2017 to market Australian-grown citrus in the United States.
The Dracula Citrus brand stands out with its unique and eye-catching branding, drawing inspiration from the character of Dracula. The brand's tagline, "Wickedly Healthy," underscores its commitment to promoting the health benefits of citrus fruits in a fun and unique way. Utilizing a diverse array of marketing channels, including social media, public relations and in-store promotions, Pinnacle Fresh has successfully positioned the Dracula Citrus brand in over 3,000 stores across the United States. This strategic approach, coupled with the brand's captivating imagery, has contributed to the growth of its market share in the U.S.
Navigating the nuances of seasonality, Pena pointed out a strategic advantage: "Our blood oranges hit when California blood oranges are out of season — September, October, November." The Australian harvest begins in August, with peak supply hitting the US in October.
Having successfully penetrated high-end markets in the U.S., Dracula Citrus is making strides into the foodservice sector. "The larger fruit goes to retail so smaller sizes work perfectly in the foodservice space," he explained. Leveraging partnerships with reliable partners like Produce Alliance and PRO*ACT, the brand has secured a deal with the U.S. military. Displays are already going up on military bases across the country.
Pena articulates a lofty yet compelling vision: "The big vision — the dream — is to have the Dracula brand synonymous with blood oranges." The brand's strategic alignment with the Halloween season facilitates successful promotions, capturing consumer attention and fostering brand recognition. Dracula Citrus is not just a product; it's a seasonal experience.
Looking beyond traditional offerings, Dracula Citrus is poised to make a splash with the upcoming launch of blood orange juice and a ready-to-drink blood orange margarita under a more adult-themed Dracula brand. This innovative approach not only caters to evolving consumer preferences by combining indulgence with health benefits but is also a fantastic strategy to promote that brand at the International Fresh Produce Association Global Produce & Floral Show.
"For IFPA, we're going to have a juice presser and a bartender there,” said Pena, “and we'll be serving up blood orange margaritas." This unique presentation at IFPA booth No. 693 reflects the brand's proactive engagement with industry events, emphasizing both the health-conscious appeal and the versatility of their blood oranges. “With blood oranges being high in antioxidants and low in acid, they offer a perfect base for mixing an enjoyable drinking experience.”
Pena underscored the commitment to quality, stating, "Our citrus doesn't come in and then just ship out." They ensure hands-on involvement in the post-arrival process. With repack locations near all their arrival ports on the East and West Coast, the brand's dedicated staff conducts rigorous quality checks, ensuring only the finest citrus reaches customers. “If there are any issues, we run the fruit on the repack line to make sure only the best produce leaves our facility,” he said.
Demand for Dracula Citrus is on an upward trajectory, evidenced by a substantial increase in container shipments. The company has seen 54 percent growth in its shipped volume this season, and Pena optimistically projects at least another 25 percent growth in 2024, pointing to the brand's unique market appeal as the biggest factor.
Beyond being a seasonal sensation, Dracula Citrus aims to cultivate lasting relationships. Pena said, "We want to build relationships and build a brand that is synonymous with blood oranges."
Dracula Citrus from Australia might be Pinnacle Fresh’s biggest program in the U.S., but it's not restricted to selling only citrus. In December it begin featuring cherries from Tasmania, Australia and New Zealand, litchi and mangos from Australia and red, green and gold kiwifruit from Italy and Greece.