Bee Sweet expands organic program

Bee Sweet Citrus Inc., Fowler, Calif., plans to expand its organics program next season. The company currently ships organic lemons, said salesman Joe Berberian.

But starting with the 2015-16 season, Bee Sweet will add organic oranges, grapefruit and mandarins.


Booth offers bags for promotions

Fruit size for California navel oranges this season should be smaller than usual, which means ample opportunity to promote 3-, 4-, 5- and 8-pound bags of fancy grade and choice grade product, said Tracy Jones, vice president of domestic sales for Booth Ranches LLC, Orange Cove, Calif.

“We have several navel blocks testing well above the California Standard as of late September,” Jones said. “Our navels will peak on 72s followed by 56s and 88s.”

Much of the company’s acreage consists of younger blocks, which have a good set and often larger fruit, Jones said. The more mature blocks have a moderate set with smaller fruit. 

Booth Ranches is a fully integrated company that farms 7,500 acres of citrus throughout the central valley. The company has two packing facilities in Orange Cove.


Johnston continues stem-and-leaf deal

The satsuma mandarin specialty stem-and-leaf program continues to perform well at retail for Johnston Farms, Edison, Calif., said partner Dennis Johnston.

“It differentiates ours from the clementines and the murcotts,” he said. The high-flavored satsumas must be handled quickly, though.

“They’re not a long-shelf-life piece of fruit, so we have to pick them, pack them and get them to market faster than clementine (shippers) do,” he said.

Johnston Farms also grows and ships navel oranges and grapefruit.


Limoneira plans recipe promotion

For the second year, Limoneira Co., Santa Paula, Calif., will support its grocery and foodservice customers with its Autumn’s Alive with Limoneira Lemons promotion, said John Chamberlain, marketing director.

The company will let shoppers and visitors know about the recipes they can make with Limoneira lemons and direct them to its grocery and foodservice customers.

The promotion is part of Limoneira’s “Winter, spring, summer, fall — every season is the perfect opportunity to unleash the natural power of lemons from Limoneira” program, that calls on a team of experts to demonstrate how lemons can be used in five areas — recipes, health, beauty cleaning and lifestyle.

The company also plans to start spreading the word about its One World of Lemons program that has resulted from various acquisitions worldwide.

“We have lemons 365 days a year for our customers,” Chamberlain said. “Everything is coordinated from food safety, labeling and packaging perspectives so that they’re getting uniform product whenever they need to have it.”


LoBue Citrus redesigns boxes


LoBue Citrus, Lindsay, Calif., is introducing new boxes this season for its navel oranges and lemons, said Norm Gatineau, vice president of sales and marketing.

The new design includes high-graphic pictures of sliced oranges or lemons and is a complete redesign of the old labels that had been in use for several years, Gatineau said.

The company ships its fancy grade citrus under the Sun Rapt label.

The firm, which is celebrating its 80th anniversary, expects its volume to increase about 10% this year as a result of new plantings of navels, lemons and murcotts.


Mulholland Citrus to Eat Brighter!

Starting with its late clementine deal, Mulholland Citrus, Orange Cove, Calif., will participate in the Produce Marketing Association’s Sesame Workshop Eat Brighter! initiative and will feature Sesame Street characters on its packaging, said Fred Berry, director of marketing.

Berry said he’s excited about the look of the packaging the company will use for tangos, w. murcotts and some of its clementines. He expects the program to kick off in mid-December or after existing packaging materials are depleted.

The company also hopes to have its satsuma and murcott stem-and-leaf program available all season long. The stem-and-leaf program is particularly popular around Thanksgiving, Christmas and the Chinese New Year, Berry said. It’s a premium program that requires special handling and packing.

Finally, the company has hired Megan Stone, a recent graduate of Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, as a sales and marketing assistant. Her responsibilities will include working on the company’s website and handling multi-media aspects of the operation.


Pacific Organic hires new salesman

Pacific Organic Produce, San Francisco, has added a new salesperson, said John Stair, domestic commodity manager. Allen Bernklau, who has an extensive background in the organic industry, most recently with Jacobs Farm/Del Cabo Inc., Pescadero, Calif., will be selling the full line of commodities at Pacific Organic Produce with emphasis on developing the firm’s vegetable business. The company’s citrus line includes organic navels, minneolas, lemons and grapefruit.


Paramount in deal with Mulholland

Delano, Calif.-based Paramount Citrus is now exclusive sales agent for the Orange Cove, Calif.-based Mulholland Citrus mandarin program, according to a news release. The deal will consolidate mandarin volume into Paramount’s Wonderful Halos brand, enabling the brand to broaden its market and reach more consumers, the release said. “We are focused on working with other like-minded quality farmers to grow the overall mandarin category within the citrus industry,” David Krause, president of Paramount Citrus, said in the release. Paramount also handles sales and marketing of clementines from Fowler Packing, Fresno, Calif.


Sundance hires operations manager

Sundance Organics, Oceanside, Calif., has hired Mike Whalen, most recently with DiMare/Indio, Indio, Calif., as operations manager, said owner Bill Hahlbohm. Whalen has 42 years experience in the industry, he said.

The company also is installing a new bagging machine and place packer that should be up and running for the start of the coming citrus season.

In anticipation of added growth this season, the company has purchased 1,000 new citrus bins and has cleared a 1-acre space at its packing facility to store them.

Sundance Organics has an extensive line of organic citrus, including grapefruit, lemons, meyer lemons, minneola tangelos, several varieties of tangerines, including Gold Nuggets and satsumas, and even some Buddha’s hand.

The company expects to ship valencia oranges into November this year and start its navel program in late October or early November.


Sunkist Growers moves to Valencia

Sunkist Growers Inc., has moved north from Sherman Oaks, Calif., to a new headquarters at 27770 N. Entertainment Drive in Valencia, between the Interstate 5 freeway and the Magic Mountain theme park.

The new building is closer to Sunkist growing areas, the company said.

The co-op will keep its current employee group intact, according to a news release.


Tom Lange Co. opens Porterville shed

Tom Lange Co., Springfield, Ill., has opened a citrus packinghouse in Porterville, Calif., as part of its Seven Seas Packers division, according to a news release.

The facility will specialize in oranges, lemons, grapefruit and other citrus products and offer year-round order fulfillment, including cartons, bags and bins packed to order for domestic and export sales.

The Visalia, Calif., office of Seven Seas will provide regional sourcing as well as operating as the packers’ exclusive sales agent.