The popularity of meyer lemons is reflected in increasing volumes from New Zealand as U.S. importers seek to meet consumer demands during California’s off season.
Just as popular as the easy-peeling, sweet lemon hybrids are the colorful, zipper bags with handles that some importers are using for the meyers.
Importers said there should be plenty of New Zealand meyers from July through September.
Giumarra Brothers Fruit Co. began importing New Zealand meyer lemons in 2010 and has steadily increased volumes. Jason Bushong, sales manager, said Giumarra expects to bring at least 10% more of the lemons to the U.S. for 2013 than it did in 2012.
“We’re expanding the program again this year,” Bushong said. “Last year the 2-pound zip-handle bag went really well so we are expanding use of it this year.”
Bushong noted that one indicator of the growing popularity of meyer lemons is the assignment of a specific look-up code to the variety: PLU 3626. He said that should speed checkout for consumers and make it easier in general for retailers to handle the lemons.
One factor that makes New Zealand’s meyer lemons ripe for import to the U.S. is the lack of a cold treatment requirement for the fruit. Importers said that allows them to provide retailers with fresher fruit that better retains its flavor.
A newcomer to the New Zealand meyer deal is Duda Farm Fresh Foods, Oviedo, Fla. Duda’s citrus sales manager for the West, Paul Huckabay said the imports are needed to meet consumer demand after the California deal ends.
Huckabay said Duda’s customer should expect a consistent flow of fruit through September.
Frieda’s Inc., Los Alamitos, Calif., is again importing meyer lemons from New Zealand for the 2013 season. It is the eighth year for the company in the deal. This year, however, the extra-sweet lemons will be available in new upright, flat-bottomed bags with handles.
“We are thrilled to present new and improved packaging for our top-selling specialty lemons,” Karen Caplan, chief executive officer, said in a news release.