Sunkist continues to increase organic production
As the new year dawns, Sunkist Growers has a robust assortment of organic citrus varieties on hand as it continues to see growth in the category.
“Sunkist organic citrus has experienced exceptional growth year over year,” said Christina Ward, director of communication at Sunkist. “Looking at industry trends, organic citrus continues to see strong performance and is up 6 percent from the prior year; organic mandarins overall had three consecutive seasons of double-digit growth in the 2018 season, with two-pounds bags proving to be most popular.”
In addition, she said organic navel and lemon sales are also strong, and California’s storied citrus marketer continues to experience an increase in demand for specialty varieties, like its organic Cara Cara navels.
In late December, Ward said, “Sunkist organic navels, lemons, Star Ruby grapefruit and Minneola tangelos are available now, with Cara Cara navels, blood oranges and California mandarins joining the group just after the New Year. Sunkist organic Valencia oranges will become available in the summer months.”
To supply that increasing demand, Sunkist is seeing its growers plant more organic acreage, especially in those same specialty varieties such as Cara Caras, blood oranges and mandarins, lending to the increase in production of these categories. It has been reported that navels are one of the more difficult crops to grow organically, especially in light of the threat from the Asian Citrus Psyllid and the citrus greening virus that it spreads, which has caused serious damage in other citrus production areas. Ward said that while growing organically is a more costly endeavor it has not hampered the overall supply situation. She noted that the supply of all organic citrus varieties is fairly consistent with the consumption mix of organic citrus.
From a marketing standpoint, Sunkist promotes the organic citrus separately from conventional, as organic is treated as its own category.
As far as promotable volume is concerned, Ward said organic grapefruit and organic lemons are available in promotable volumes currently and that volume level should remain through February. “Organic oranges will continue to have ample availability through May,” she added.
In fact, it’s a good year across the category for California citrus as production of conventional fruit is also in very good shape. “Sunkist has promotable crops this season,” Ward said. “Citrus crops are up this year; retailers now have an opportunity to promote categories they haven’t been able to in the past.”