Mandarins continue to draw significant investment from California grower-shippers.
Los Angeles-based The Wonderful Co. and Pasadena, Calif.-based Sun Pacific continue to promote the growing popularity of their seedless easy-peelers with extensive advertising campaigns, and Valencia, Calif.-based Sunkist Growers recently entered into a partnership that doubled its mandarin supply.
“(We are) shipping murcott mandarins under our Delite program, with strong volumes and fantastic quality,” said Joan Wickham, director of communications for Sunkist. “Minneola tangelos, a cross between a tangerine and a grapefruit, are another easy-peel fruit that is shipping now.”
Sunkist has aimed to differentiate the Delite brand by focusing on the quality of the fruit rather than on its ease of use and appeal for children.
Wonderful reported that Halos have had their fastest start yet to a season, and Sun Pacific expressed confidence in its Cuties.
Both companies offer numerous point-of-sale materials and other ways for retailers to highlight the mandarins.
“This year’s crop has great-tasting fruit and is excellent quality,” said Howard Nager, vice president of marketing and business development for Sun Pacific. There are many opportunities to promote both (3-pound) bags and (5-pound) boxes. Mandarins continue to drive the citrus category and will continue to do (so) into the future.”
Wonderful vice president of marketing Adam Cooper also reported strong quality on mandarins.
The companies have extensive plans to reach consumers this season.
“Following up a very successful winter campaign where we were a sponsor of the iHeart Jingle Ball Concerts around the country, featuring such stars as Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, Ariana Grande and Demi Lovato, we will continue to work with iHeart media through the first quarter of 2018,” Nager said. “There are over 150 radio stations in the iHeart network that we will be advertising a Cuties jingle, billboards, social media and influencers blogs as well as public relations activity.”
Wonderful has also been pleased with its outreach efforts, noting that it has a record number of point-of-sale displays in stores and that social media messages appear to be drawing eyeballs.
“We kicked off the season with the biggest digital push ever, including a Facebook and Instagram blast, generating 70 million impressions at the start of the season,” Cooper said. “We are seeing Halos fly off the shelf and are excited about the results we’ve seen this season.”
The company will spend $25 million this season on its “Good Choice, Kid” campaign that again includes numerous TV commercials, now targeting adults as well.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated Jan. 12 that California will produce 21 million boxes of tangerines and mandarins, down from 23.9 million in 2016-17.
Florida is projected to add 860,000 boxes, down from 1.62 million last season, with the dramatic decrease a result of Hurricane Irma.