Sunkist, Limoneira, and Bee Sweet Citrus Weigh in on Increasing Citrus Demand
UNITED STATES - Coming off the tight citrus market we previously reported last month, growers are now rounding up the latter half of their programs, and are already gearing up for this year’s import season. As expected, demand is continuing to surge as we head into the summer months.
Fowler, California-based Bee Sweet Citrus is welcoming the beginning of its summer import program on navels, lemons, and mandarins from Chile. The company is also currently starting its Valencia orange deal as it switches lemon growing regions from the San Joaquin Valley to its Coastal region for the summertime.
“With one month left in the Navel season, we’ve ramped up our picking efforts to finish just in time for the start of imports,” Monique Bienvenue, Director of Communications at Bee Sweet Citrus, tells me. “We have a steady surplus of grapefruit because of two growing areas in season (Imperial Valley and San Joaquin Valley). On the flip side, lemon volume has decreased due to our water situation and limited harvest in our Coastal region. Help is on the way however, once our Chilean lemons begin arriving in July, supplies should be somewhat normal again.”
Demand for lemons is at an all-time high this season in both domestic and export markets. John Chamberlain, Limoneira’s Director of Marketing, tells me, “With demand rising, the market has been very good at taking a full array of sizes and grades. We will be bringing in our lemons from Chile for the U.S. market, our lemons from Argentina for the Canadian market, and participating in the Mexican lemon program. We will also be bringing in Meyer lemons from New Zealand to support our Meyer program.”
As far as the navel crop, despite the warmer weather in the Central Valley, navels appear to be meeting high-quality standards and are hitting peak sweetness levels. Overall, growers are pleased with the results thus far.
“We’re still packing navel oranges – and the eating quality continues to be outstanding,” said Joan Wickham, Manager, Advertising and Public Relations for Sunkist Growers. “The Cara Cara Navel season is winding down, with the last of the season’s fruit tasting fantastic and with the beautiful, deep pink interior color that Caras are known for. Valencia oranges, including organics, are also available, and tasting very juicy and delicious.”
Sunkist’s Star Ruby grapefruit season is also underway, with fruit tasting “exceptionally good and showing a beautiful blush,” as Joan tells me. Sunkist is continuing to offer retailers its “Not Your Mother’s Grapefruit” packaging to ramp up excitement for the category among millennials and educate consumers about the health and weight loss benefits of grapefruit.
Bee Sweet and Sunkist expect to have enough supply of grapefruit to help carry them through the season as demand starts increases heading into the summer.
Stay tuned to AndNowUKnow as we continue to follow the rest of the citrus import season this coming season.