Easy-peel varieties pick up value-added slack for citrus

01/19/2012 04:52:00 PM
Jim Offner

Citrus marketers say consumers shouldn’t sell their product short in the value-added category, even if their products can’t be readily offered in fresh-cut, prepackaged formats.

Today, that may not matter so much, some marketers say.

“I think there has been numerous attempts to slice and dice and pre-cut and do all that stuff, but I’ve got to tell you: Does anybody really want to buy that stuff with all these food safety issues flying around?” said Dennis Johnston, a partner in Johnston Farms, Bakersfield, Calif.

Some citrus products, particularly the “easy-peel” varieties, approach the convenience of other fresh-cut items as they are, said David Krause, president of Delano, Calif.-based Paramount Citrus Association Inc.

“We haven’t spent a lot in the citrus category on the fresh-cut product, largely because we have such a natural, nice product that has great shelf life and a great protective rind around it,” he said.

Moving toward more seedless products is another natural value-added step, said Tom Wollenman, general manager of Lindsay, Calif.-based LoBue Bros.

Some value-added ideas consist of ways to facilitate the consumption of citrus, said Alex Teague, senior vice president and chief operating officer of Santa Paula, Calif.-based Limoneira Co.

“Many of us marketers continue to increase tools to aid in use of our citrus products, from cutting tools to a new program we have coming out to aid in utilizing fresh lemons as a natural cleaner,” he said.

“All of these are vital in getting the consumer to maintain and increase usage.”



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