Duda's Western Citrus Sales Manager Paul Huckabay Fills Us in on the State of the Market
VISALIA, CA - Exciting times are underway for citrus providers like Duda Farm Fresh Foods. With peak season for key citrus crops arriving, we reached out to Duda’s Western Citrus Sales Manager Paul Huckabay to find out where we, as an industry, stand with the seasonal staple fruits.
“We have seen good demand following Thanksgiving and running up to Christmas, and don’t foresee that slowing anytime soon,” said Paul. “Right now, we’re packing Navel oranges, clementines, lemons, and Meyer lemons—our complete California offering for the winter season.”
The season began with a bang for Duda, with its harvest yielding remarkable quality citrus, and the company is planning to ride the crest through the winter.
“The season started with really flavorful oranges—citrus in general—and that helped create momentum as we rolled into the Thanksgiving period,” said Paul. “We’ve seen, in previous years, that if you don’t come out of the gates right away with a really good-tasting piece of fruit, you tend to lose momentum as the season progresses. This year, the condition of our fruit has been solid and the flavor has been outstanding from the get go. There seems to be good customer acceptance; we’re very pleased. Demand has been steady, so far, and matched nicely with the pace of our production.”
Paul described citrus prices as stable in accordance with healthy supply and robust demand; he also predicted a steady supply of fruit through the holiday season with no foreseeable spikes or dips in volume or price, and production matching nicely with demand.
Though Paul noted the persistence of drought as a serious issue across California, weather conditions this harvest season have otherwise been close to ideal: “We’ve had a couple rainstorms here in the central valley that have caused some minor harvesting interruptions, but frankly, we’re very happy to have those interruptions. We’re still battling a drought.”
As temperatures get colder, Paul remarked, the color of fruit will advance more quickly, and this will eliminate time and effort expended on the degreening process. As of the time of our interview on December 9, Paul predicted fruit would be reaching full natural color in the next ten to fourteen days; this would allow the company to begin exporting fruit to Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and countries throughout South America.
“We’re at a point in the season where the color of the fruit is going to be advanced enough; the quality is outstanding and can certainly take the ride.”
What else does Duda have in store this winter? As one of the largest grower-marketers of Meyer lemons, the company is making a concerted effort to promote the citrus staple’s use in holiday baking, cooking, and drinks through December.
As we roll into 2017, Paul tells me, Duda will begin to focus more on healthy eating initiatives. With consumers looking to shed holiday weight and start the year off right, the company will begin to refocus its efforts on promoting the extraordinary health benefits of citrus fruit.
For more on the state of the citrus industry, check back with AndNowUKnow.