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Sunkist projects juicy sweet flavors in citrus season ahead

By
Keith Loria

Sunkist is one of the longest-standing agricultural cooperatives in the nation, as its roots date back to 1893. Today, Sunkist grows nearly 40 different varieties of fresh, premium citrus, including oranges, lemons, mandarins, grapefruit, tangerines and tangelos.  

“As the leader in the citrus category, it’s important for us to stay up-to-date on shopper behaviors and category insights,” said Christina Ward, senior director of global marketing for the company. “Our category management and shopper insights team provide value-add to our retail partners nationwide, looking at unique opportunities specific to their citrus programs. The Sunkist marketing team then takes this information to build custom programs for our partners, all data-led and shopper-focused.”

Innovation is key, and the company helps consumers celebrate every bite with its Peel Good Citrus campaign.

“Category insights show the importance of educating consumers in-store and we are excited to provide our retail partners with eye-catching packaging, merchandising and POPs that resonates with consumers,” Ward said. “Our newly designed quarter bins feature varietal-focused QR codes guiding consumers to recipe inspiration, nutritional information and interactive games.”

With the 130th anniversary of the grower cooperative on the horizon, Sunkist is committed to maintaining the long-standing legacy of collaboration, innovation and quality that has made the brand a household name.  

This past season, the California citrus industry experienced a shorter crop, especially around mandarins, Navel oranges and peak season specialties. “We are ready for promotable volumes across most varieties and foresee juicy sweet flavors and quality in the season ahead,” Ward said. “We are excited to welcome a new citrus season with the return of the California-grown Sunkist Navel oranges this month (conventional and organic), followed by Sunkist California mandarins and Pummelos. Plus, lemons and grapefruit are available year-round. This is the perfect time of year to promote Meyer lemons in stores.”

According to Numerator data, three of the most important purchase decision factors for consumers are flavor, health and immune-boosting benefits, and a desire to try something different or unique.

“Specialty citrus offerings are the best bet to expand the category — Sunkist Cara Cara oranges, Blood oranges and Minneola tangelos hit all those marks and are sure to brighten up your table this citrus season,” Ward said.

After seeing success with its Strawberry Shortcake collaboration with Sunkist Blood oranges, Sunkist is expanding the program to include Sunkist Cara Cara oranges and lemons. Both Cara and lemon varieties have also seen an increase in basket spend when purchased with strawberries, compared to the average strawberry trip, according to recent data.

In November, Sunkist will celebrate the holidays with 10-pound Navel carton packaging and in-store merchandising. “We are excited to bring along some intergalactic friends to join in on the festivities of the season with a 10-pound carton of Navel oranges featuring Marvel Studios’ The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, streaming on Disney+ beginning Nov. 25.”

Sunkist’s other two 10-pound carton options include the gift wrap and ribbon crate cartons, which are ready-to-gift boxes of fruit. “Our focus this year is to educate the shopper on how to use 10 pounds of Navel oranges, whether it be a gift for your neighbor or a feast for the holidays,” Ward said.

Keith Loria

Keith Loria

About Keith Loria  |  email

A graduate of the University of Miami, Keith Loria is a D.C.-based award-winning journalist who has been writing for major publications for close to 20 years on topics as diverse as real estate, food and sports. He started his career with the Associated Press and has held high editorial positions at magazines aimed at healthcare, sports and technology. When not busy writing, he can be found enjoying time with his wife, Patricia, and two daughters, Jordan and Cassidy.

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