According to recent IRI Worldwide data, total citrus sales in dollars are up by eight percent over last year in the December – February time period, highlighting consumer enthusiasm for seasonal citrus.
“Consumers are seeking fresh, bright and delicious foods during the winter months – creating great opportunity for peak season citrus,” says Joan Wickham, Sunkist’s director of communications. “As temperatures rise with the beginning of spring, consumer focus on healthy eating intensifies and retailers can capitalize on health trends with the many varieties of seasonal citrus that are available throughout the spring.”
Navel oranges, a consumer favorite available until June, have performed very well this season with sales by volume up 7.5 percent in February over last year, officials say. Organic Navel orange sales by volume increased by 68 percent over the same period.
In addition, nutrient-rich Cara Cara Navel orange sales rose 12.5 percent by volume in the last 52 week period compared to 2015. Cara Cara Navel oranges, known for their distinctive pink flesh and intensely sweet flavor, are available through May.
Meyer lemons have also seen positive results this season, with sales by volume up 4.9 percent in February over last year. Thought to be a cross between a mandarin orange and a lemon, Meyer lemons are sweeter than conventional lemons and have a rich golden yellow skin and floral aroma.
Retailers can also capitalize on varieties coming into season now such as Gold Nugget variety mandarins, a late-season mandarin named for its bright, beautiful bumpy rind with deliciously sweet flavor, officials add. Gold Nugget variety mandarins are in season now through May.
Ojai Pixie tangerines, another springtime specialty variety, are also in season. Named for the lush Ojai region of Southern California where they’re grown, Pixies are small in size, seedless and intensely sweet. Sunkist plans to ship Pixies through May.
California Star Ruby grapefruit is also beginning harvest. Known for its health and weight loss benefits, grapefruit is a fantastic springtime item for retailers to promote, say officials. With its rich pink flesh and distinct sweet-tart flavor, California Star Rubies are available now through July.
Sunkist offers retailers eye-catching packaging and customizable point-of-sale materials to educate consumers about seasonal citrus and bolster sales by highlighting flavor profiles, nutritional information, usage tips and recipe ideas.