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National Sunkist Citrus Day marks 130 years of cooperative

As farmers, family and a community, Sunkist Growers is celebrating its humble California roots with Sunkist Citrus Day on March 1. The fresh citrus cooperative began in 1893, making Sunkist the longest-standing agricultural co-op in the United States. lemon ad

As a marketing cooperative, Sunkist's first advertisement was published in Des Moines, IA, in March 1908 to promote the California observance called "Orange Day." The ad stated, "For years March 1st has been celebrated as 'Orange Day' in Southern California and the festivities embrace a period of one week." The ad also mentioned, "the orange offers unlimited possibilities in the daintiest of desserts. Their use is unlimited. Morning, noon and night."

Today, Sunkist Citrus Day is officially registered in the National Day Calendar as a tribute to the more than 1,500 growers that make up Sunkist’s membership and the nearly 40 fresh, premium citrus varieties in its portfolio. While Sunkist offers an array of conventional and organic oranges, lemons, mandarins, grapefruit, tangerines and tangelos, many of its grower-members are small family farmers who have been passing down the tradition of growing citrus from generation to generation.

"In a recent study, we learned that citrus shoppers find value in knowing where their citrus is grown and how it is picked," said Christina Ward, senior director of global marketing. "We wanted to bring citrus shoppers to a California grove with 'Meet the Grower' POP (point of purchase) and interactive in-store displays. These materials educate shoppers on our growers' stories, the zesty lineup of Sunkist citrus, and our farming regions."

Sunkist is also celebrating its legacy with a premium sweet Heirloom Navel orange program — nature's seasonal gift, available only during peak citrus season. Grown on old-line California orange groves and nurtured by dedicated family farmers, Sunkist Legacy Heirloom Navels are deliciously sweet and delightfully fragrant, inviting an exceptional eating experience for citrus shoppers. For retail, new three- and four-pound giro bags, and display masters are accompanied by matching square and quarter bins. The commemorative design was consumer-tested and received an overwhelmingly positive response, with surveyed shoppers saying they would buy this new packaging.

Sunkist encourages everyone to Celebrate Every Bite, especially during peak citrus season. Here are some fun ways to observe Sunkist Citrus Day on March 1 and throughout the year:

  • Learn about the different varieties of citrus grown by Sunkist.
  • Buy Sunkist citrus to support the family of farmers that make up the cooperative.
  • Try a new recipe — inspiration can always be found on Sunkist.com/recipes.
  • Order a citrus-forward dish or drink at your favorite food joint.
  • Share your favorite citrus flavors or wellness tips using citrus and give Sunkist a shout-out on social media using #NationalSunkistCitrusDay.
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