Consumers see mandarins as a piece of fruit that is easy to peel and very convenient, Berry said.
They’re typically sold in a consumer pack, like a bag or a bag in a box.
However, he adds that navels still are a viable product.
“I wouldn’t sell them short,” he said.
Stone, who ships navels as well as satsumas and clementines at Valhalla Sales & Marketing, said the easy-peel fruit “is kind of the catch word.”
Navels remain “a fantastic-eating piece of fruit,” he said but, “the volume of the clementines and satsumas is definitely taking a toll on the early navel deal.”
However, Dennis Johnston, partner in Johnston Farms, Bakersfield, Calif., doesn’t think mandarins are cannibalizing navels at retail.
“Maybe it’s shifted the navel deal around a little bit — there are a lot more late-season navels than there used to be,” he said, “but the interest we get in our regular navel crop is as good as it’s ever been.”