Following the successful Chilean Blueberry Committee, Chilean citrus exporters have launched a similar organization for their products and expect them to bear fruit this season.

For the first time in 2012, the Chilean Citrus Committee will fund marketing efforts supporting the sales of Chilean navels and clementines in North America, said Tom Tjerandsen, managing director for North America with the Sonoma, Calif.-based Chilean Fresh Fruit Association.

“The Chilean citrus industry is looking with great interest at expanding business in North America,” Tjerandsen said. “They know there’s great potential.”

To help realize that potential, the committee will launch a three-pronged marketing campaign this season.

The first effort will focus on reaching out to consumer publications, bloggers and social networking channels, with the focus on recipes that incorporate Chilean citrus, Tjerandsen said.

The second marketing focus will be on retailers. New point-of-sale materials and display contests will be among the planned activities, Tjerandsen said.

In addition, the new committee will send merchandisers to U.S. grocery stores to help implement the programs and encourage Chilean citrus promotions.

The third focus of the new committee will be on foodservice, Tjerandsen said.

In the past, citrus was a tougher sell to restaurants because of the spotty availability in the summer.

However, with off-season citrus production from the Southern Hemisphere increasing so rapidly in recent years, that’s no longer a concern, Tjerandsen said.

“They don’t have to tell customers, ‘Come back in two weeks when South African citrus is in,’” he said. “Foodservice can now confidently menu (summer citrus).”