California-based Limoneira Company will now build on its direct lemon sales programs with oranges and other specialty citrus items.
Chief operating officer Alex Teague tells www.freshfruitportal.com the move ties into Limoneira’s One World of Citrus program, meeting the needs of customers not only in the U.S. but throughout the globe.
He says the direct sales method outside the lemon category – in citrus referred to as “round fruit” – has been in trials for a couple of years, but now the it would make up 100% of volume.
“One of the big drivers is the foodservice industry. Whereas probably 70-80% oranges go to retail, only about 20-30% of lemons go to retail,” Teague says.
“So bringing the foodservice-size oranges to coincide with our foodservice business in the lemons is a big help.”
In addition to Navel and Valencia oranges, Limoneira will provide Cara Cara Navels , Moro Blood oranges, Pummelos and Star Ruby Grapefruit from its groves.
The company will partner with Cecelia Packing Corporation for packing Limoneira oranges and specialty citrus.
“Limoneira via Sunkist used to have an orange house up until 2001 – for a variety of reasons it was shut down and we had always planned to going back to packing and selling direct ourselves with the oranges – now just appeared the opportune time with Cecelia to go do it,” he says.
“Like our lemon packing house in Santa Paula, they have a state-of-the-art facility in Orange Cove that’s close to our orange and specialty citrus groves,” Teague says in a release.
In the release, Limoneira director of global sales John Carter says global lemon customers have been asking Limoneira to sell its other citrus varieties for quite a while.
“We look forward to the opportunity to grow the category and connect shoppers to other citrus trees,” he says.
“Customers have appreciated the quality and consistency that they receive with Limoneira’s lemons, and we will deliver these same benefits with our oranges and specialty citrus.”
When asked about the current citrus market, Teague is still upbeat despite some short-term challenges this year.
“I would say the round fruit, because of unusual crop size, some maturing issues, there was a struggle this year,” he says.
“But of course we think that’s only temporary and it’ll work its way out. It was more a seasonal crop condition than it was a market condition. We still have strong confidence in the marketplace and consumption.
“The lemon market is continuing to be very strong. Consumption, from what we can tell comparing stores and restaurants, consumption continues to rise. We continue to have a lot of interest from retail and foodservice to have more fresh lemon programs.”
In terms of the upcoming California deal, he says orchards are getting enough heat units to have good-tasting oranges, and Limoneira has a full water allocation in the San Joaquin Valley.
“For fruit condition we’re very much looking forward to the 2016-17 season,” he says.