Citrus sales stay on upward trend

11/02/2012 01:44:00 PM
Tom Burfield

California and Arizona organic citrus sales are maintaining their upward trend.

“We continue to see increases year over year,” said John Stair, domestic commodity manager for San Francisco-based Pacific Organic Produce/Purity Organic, San Francisco.

He said he expects the company’s navel program to be double what it was last year because of added acreage and more fruit per tree this season.

That’s good news, he said, because the company likely could have handled more volume last season.

Volume also is up on the firm’s desert lemons and grapefruit, both of which have been seen strong demand.

Cecelia Packing Corp., Orange Cove, Calif., offers organic navel and cara cara oranges, said sales manager Randy Jacobson.

“It’s a growing field,” he said.

Jacobson said he’s not aware of any organic buyers cutting back because of the sour economy.

“If you’re a committed organic user, you’re a committed organic user,” he said.

Cecilia Packing has a relatively small organic deal — 100 acres of oranges and 30 acres of cara caras — Jacobson said.

There’s a discussion at the firm every year about whether the company should add organic acreage or cut back.

“It’s more likely that we’ll continue to convert some acreage to organic,” he said. “It’s part of the portfolio of property and crops that we have.”

Organic citrus has proved to be a good deal on the growing side, he said. “The returns are very good.”

The recession had an impact on organic sales at Eco-Farm, Temecula, Calif., said president Steve Taft. “But it seems to have kind of recovered.”

Eco-Farm was finishing its organic valencia program early this year — around mid-October — because growers pulled out acreage because of the high cost of water in the Temecula-San Diego area, he said.

The company’s valencia production was down by half compared with last year, he said.

Navels and grapefruit will start up again at the end of November, and lemons should start even sooner, he said.

The company will offer organic minneolas and tangerines this winter.

“From our perspective things, have been continuing to grow,” said Scott Mabs, director of marketing for Homegrown Organic Farms, Strathmore, Calif.

Citrus is one of the company’s strongest items, he said.

“We have an extremely well-rounded program, from lemons, limes and grapefruit to the valencias, navels and mandarin varietals,” Mabs said.


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