Citrus has some natural drawbacks that inhibit its success in foodservice, said David Mixon, senior vice president of Seald Sweet International Inc., Vero Beach, Fla.
“It’s that lack of convenience,” he said.
“You’d think it would be the No. 1 item, but it’s all processed in the schools. Nine times out of 10, it’s an apple or banana or grape. People don’t want to see peelings all over the schoolyard. Even with the increase in school lunch programs and the ability of the fruit and vegetable industry to be involved, we’re seeing the needle move slightly but not the way we’d like to see.
“But overall, you’re talking about a value-added cost that will not allow that to take place for citrus.”
Nevertheless, work goes on to make inroads in foodservice, said Randy Jacobsen, sales manager with Cecelia Packing Corp., Orange Cove, Calif.
“We sell a fair amount of oranges to foodservice — for garnishes, for juices, for schools, for prisons,” he said.
“It’s a part of the program and it cycles in and out.”
Cost is a key factor with foodservice, Jacobsen said.
“A lot of foodservice is based on cost per serving,” he said.
“A lot of times they take small oranges, which are the least expensive. There is a cycle, let’s put it that way.”