U.S. consumers of South African citrus will likely see more packaged product this summer.

The sizing of this year’s crop should encourage bagged promotions of South African citrus this season, said Suhanra Conradie, CEO of the Western Cape Citrus Producers Forum.

“Much of the citrus is bagged on arrival in the U.S., and the size of this season’s fruit being somewhat smaller makes it ideal for this purpose,” Conradie said.

Fruit is shipped from South Africa in cartons. To meet consumer preferences, Conradie said, a majority is bagged for retailer use.

“There are still some programs which require loose fruit that is sold by the piece, but the majority is bagged,” she said. “Bagging has become more popular since our program began in 1999.”

Packaging of South African citrus has evolved over the years, said Tom Cowan, South African citrus manager for DNE World Fruit Sales, Fort Pierce, Fla.

“Clementine packaging has moved from the 5-pound box a few years ago to almost exclusively bags now — 2-pound, 3-pound and 5-pound bags,” Cowan said.

That switch started with the summer citrus category and now has carried over into winter citrus, Cowan said.

DNE also has seen more retailers interested in marketing cara caras in 3-pound bags in addition to loose, Cowan said. The same is true for navels in general, he said.

“Navel bags have increased in volume compared to bulk loose navel displays in the produce section.”

The packaging mix for St. Laurent, Quebec-based Capespan North America should be similar to last year, said Marc Solomon, senior vice president.

“Oranges are packed bulk in 15-kilogram cartons or in bags, and clementines are all bagged according to retail requirements, normally 2- or 3-pound bags,” he said.

Vero Beach, Fla.-based Seald Sweet International expects ideal volumes for promoting bagged oranges this season, said Kim Flores, the company’s marketing director.

“We’ve seen a growing demand over the year in this category versus bulk product,” Flores said.

Seald Sweet also plans to promote late-season South African mandarins with a new line of high-graphic packaging focused on the fruit’s sweetness, Flores said.