California and Arizona grower-shippers are making things easy for convenience-minded consumers by offering a plethora of bagged citrus options.
SunWest Fruit Co. Inc., Parlier, Calif., now packs cara cara oranges in high-graphic, standup Giro bags, said Doug Sankey, sales manager.
Most come in the increasingly popular 3-pound size.
“We’ve increased our bagging capabilities with additional machines,” Sankey said.
The company also packs other orange varieties in bags, the size of which depends on the time of the season.
“Early season, it’s usually a 4- or 5-pound bag,” he said. “Late season, you see more 8-pound bags, when prices are down and you get larger sizes.”
Shipping bags is advantageous for Booth Ranches LLC, Orange Cove, Calif., said Neil Galone, vice president of sales and marketing.
“It gives us flexibility on sizes,” he said, and provides the company with an outlet for small- and large-size fruit.
“Many of our customers offer bulk and bagged,” he said.
Booth Ranches realized that demand for bags was strong and increasing, Galone said, “so we took steps three or four years ago not only to increase our bagging, but to make it more efficient.”
Booth Ranches can pack up to six loads of citrus per day.
Cecelia Packing Corp. in Orange Cove has been packing bags for years, but the volume varies annually, said Randy Jacobson, sales manager.
“Some years it could be 20% or 25%, and other years it might be only 10% or 15% — and there’s no rhyme or reason for that,” he said.
Whether the company sells bagged or bulk product doesn’t matter much to Jacobson.
“We’ll sell it any way they want it,” he said.
Seald Sweet West International Inc., Dinuba, Calif., now has equipment to pack Giro bags, said Rick Eastes, vice president and general manager.
Seald Sweet can pack electronically coded bags ranging from 1- to 8 pounds and wrap them in graphic or plain packaging.
“With the new electronics and the new machinery, you can do just about anything,” Eastes said.
The amount of bags the company packs depends largely on the size of fruit that is available.
Last year, the company packed a lot of bags because there were ample supplies of size 88s, 113s and 138s, he said.
This year, he expects fruit size to be a bit larger, so the company will put up more standard packs and bag up to 20% of its navels.
Demand for bagged citrus shows no signs of letting up at SunWest, Sankey said.
Two- and 3-pound bags have been gaining traction for clementines and mandarins, while 4- and 5-pounders are popular for navels early in the season and 8-pounders later on.
At times, the company packs 50% of its clementines and mandarins in bags, he said.