South Tex Organics has expanded its packing facility by 12,000 square feet, one-third of which is cold storage, says Dennis Holbrook, president. The facility features a double-deck flow rack system to help boost shelf life with a first-in, first-out system. ( South Tex Organics )

Duda expands mandarin program

Salinas, Calif.-based Duda Farm Fresh Foods now has its "original fast food" in convenience stores, said Nichole Towell, director of marketing.

The four-count mandarins are packed in high-graphic, resealable packaging for healthful, on-the-go snacking, she said.

"Also, we have our meyer lemons packaged in high-graphic, 1-pound pouch bags, which educate consumers about product attributes and usage of the unique citrus variety," Towell said.


Johnston Farms mandarins increase

Johnston Farms, Edison, Calif., is slowly but surely expanding its mandarin program, said partner Dennis Johnston.

Satsumas, available from early November through mid-January, are the company's primary mandarin item, but the firm also grows murcotts, tahoe golds and gold nuggets later in the season.

Johnston Farms shipped about 500,000 packages of satsumas last year.

"Cuties and Halos have floated everybody's boat on the mandarin side," he said.

"Until those got popular, we were kind of static as far as demand goes."

The company's navel volume remains unchanged, though Johnston continues to pull out old trees and plant new ones.


Limoneira now markets oranges

Santa Paula, Calif.-based Limoneira Co. is marketing its own round citrus, including navel, cara cara and blood oranges and minneolas, for the first time in several years, said John Carter, director of global sales.

The company, best known for its line of traditional and specialty lemons, has grown the other citrus items before but has not marketed them.

Bringing those items under its sales and marketing umbrella "allows us to be broadline across the citrus items," Carter said.

Volumewise, lemons will continue to be the firm's primary item, but Carter said the company expects to expand availability of the round citrus offerings, "hopefully sooner rather than later."


LoBue launches Super Nova

LoBue Bros. Inc., Lindsay, Calif., launched a super sweet, flavorful mandarin called the Super Nova in January, said Robert LoBue, general manager of LoBue Farms, the company's growing operation.

Officially known as USDA 88-2, the variety was developed in Florida and is a cross between the nova and the lee varieties.

It has a distinctive bold flavor that comes from its nova parentage, LoBue said. It's also fragrant, has a dark orange color and is "basically seedless."

It's available for about six weeks starting in early January and is being sold in a few stores in Southern California.


Lone Star Citrus volume rises 10%

Orange and grapefruit volume is up about 10% this year for Lone Star Citrus Growers, Mission, Texas, said Trent Bishop, vice president of sales.

"Between acquiring some outside acreage and all of our plantings, we continue to grow every single year," he said.

The company also is having success with its Winter Sweetz brand Texas red grapefruit, which it introduced last season.

"The support and repeat orders have spoken for themselves," Bishop said. "I think the market has enjoyed the new label out there."


SunWest prepares for Ruby Tangos

Ruby Tangos mandarins, a hybrid of the clemenules mandarin and a blood orange, will be back for their third season at SunWest Fruit Co. Inc., Parlier, Calif., said Doug Sankey, vice president of marketing.

The red-flesh mandarins will be available in 12- and 26-ounce clamshell containers or stickered with Price Look-Up codes in a one-layer Eurobox for bulk displays, Sankey said.

Display shippers will be offered that can accommodate clamshells or bulk product.

Ruby Tangos will be available for six to eight weeks during February and most of March, he said.

So far, demand has outstripped supply as buyers "look for newer, innovative items for differentiation," Sankey said, but SunWest continues to increase volume.

The company also markets navel oranges and is increasing its plantings of cara cara navels, he said.


South Tex Organics in expansion mode

South Tex Organics LC, Mission, Texas, is expanding on the inside and the outside.

The company has increased its packing facility by 12,000 square feet, one-third of which is cold storage, said Dennis Holbrook, president.

The facility has a double-deck flow rack system to make it easier to implement a first-in, first-out system, which can help ensure maximum shelf life, he said.

The firm also has bought a new color sorter.

Outside, the company added 18 acres of grapefruit and pineapple oranges in late fall, and Holbrook said he plans to add another 12 acres or so within the next six to eight months.


Sunkist boosts organic output

Valencia, Calif.-based Sunkist Growers Inc. is increasing its organic production and can offer customers "a robust portfolio" of organic product as well as conventional offerings, said Joan Wickham, director of communications.

While Sunkist's organic segment is small, it is growing quickly, Wickham said.

"Impressive growth in the mandarin segment shows tremendous promise for organic easy peelers, which is aligned with consumer trends, as parents are increasingly choosing organic foods for their children when possible," she said.


Univeg parent builds facility

Construction is expected to be completed in late May or early June on a 152,000-square-foot building that will house the fresh division of Greenyard Logistics America, parent company of Vero Beach, Fla.-based Seald Sweet International, said Seald Sweet CEO Mayda Sotomayor-Kirk.

Seald Sweet will be a tenant of the facility.

Univeg Logistics America officials broke ground on the facility in September. Univeg, Seald Sweet's sister company, plans to change the Univeg company name to Greenyard Logistics USA once the facility is completed.

The new facility will quadruple the company's current capacity and expand operations in the Northeast while providing room for expansion, Sotomayor-Kirk said.

It will serve as a distribution point for imported citrus, including oranges, grapefruit, mandarins and lemons, as well as grapes and deciduous items and all items imported to the Northeast, she said.