Citrus growers seek unique spots in the marketplace, and niche items are often the ticket.
Tangelos, also known as minneolas, are an example, although some growers no longer view them as a specialty item.
“It’s been around a long time and is a big mainstay,” said David Krause, president of Delano, Calif.-based Paramount Citrus Association Inc.
“It depends on the type of fruit, like how easy does it peel, does it make a mess when you peel it, is it easy to eat, does it taste great, is it seedless?”
Tangelo buyers are loyal to the product, said grower Andrew Brown, who also is a director with Exeter-based California Citrus Mutual.
“I think it’s export-driven,” he said.
“I have several clients that have put new plantings in. It’s like blood oranges. There have been some positive returns for several people out here. Some are wanting to put a block or two here.”
The minneola market is strong, said Tom Wollenman, general manager of Lindsay, Calif.-based LoBue Bros.
“We do 100,000 to 200,000 40-pound cartons of minneolas,” he said.
“We have some very qualified minneola growers here. That market is a fairly mature market. Those minneola growers have done well and will continue to do well.”
There aren’t a lot of new minneola plantings these days, but it retains its popularity, Wollenman said.
“That’s a pretty stable market,” he said.
“It’s a nice, popular piece of fruit. You can ship it well. It’s got some advantages to it.”
Tangelos fit an attention-grabbing specialties category of which citrus has several, said Randy Jacobsen, sales manager with Cecelia Packing Corp., Orange Cove, Calif.
“If the product is really outstanding, you’re getting people’s attention quickly,” he said.
“But just because it’s different is not enough.”