For the fourth straight year, Valencia, Calif.-based Sunkist Growers’ revenues topped $1 billion for the 2013 season, setting another impressive milestone for the 121-year-old citrus marketing cooperative.
As vice president of sales and marketing, Kevin Fiori helped lead those efforts. He attributed part of the co-op’s success to a renewed sales focus started about five years ago that included delivering products to customers and a quest to be the market’s most reliable citrus supplier.
Keeping customers’ needs front and center guides everything the co-op does, including the citrus varieties it offers, Fiori said.
“Our growers are expanding production of newer varieties consumers favor because we know it will continue to improve our sales success for years to come,” he said.
They include late-season, easy-peel varieties, such as gold nugget mandarin and Ojai pixie tangerine, as well as other specialty citrus, such as cara cara navels, minneola tangelos, meyer lemons and organics.
As a co-op with thousand of family farmer-members, Sunkist has taken advantage of the farm-to-table movement with its “Sunkist Family Stories.”
A consumer microsite, social media campaign and retail marketing materials help tell the story of citrus and help consumers learn about the practices and innovations used to produce the crop. “Our customers and consumers have embraced the project, and we plan to not only continue consumer promotion of the grower content but also roll out retail marketing materials to help our customers bring Sunkist Family Stories to life in their stores this season,” Fiori said.
He brings that same focused approach to the Produce Marketing Association, where he is chairman-elect.
Fiori, 55, said one of his main goals is to advance PMA’s strategic plan that was developed last year.
“We’re all in the business of driving fresh produce consumption and floral demand, and that plan specifically outlines an aggressive road map for developing new resources and member services to help us move the needle,” he said.
Jan DeLyser, vice president of marketing at the California Avocado Commission and PMA past chairman, served on the PMA board alongside Fiori and said he brings an inclusive leadership style.
“He’s very thoughtful in his approach in terms of asking great questions,” she said. “He’s got a great ability to gain consensus of a group.”
Whether in his role with Sunkist or PMA, she said Fiori has to deal with diverse groups and he does so successfully.
DeLyser pointed to PMA’s Membership Dues Task Force as an example of how he was able to bring people together on what could be a contentious issue.
“From the report that came back to the board, you could tell there was really consideration given to all of the folks,” she said.