( Courtesy Jaffa Orri )

An influx of Orri mandarins from Israel started arriving in the northeastern U.S. at the end of January, as California’s mandarin season started to slow down.

“The fruit is already eating better than any other citrus I have had in recent memory, and I have been handling Orri in particular for some years – more or less since the variety’s notoriety began to spill over from Europe,” John Vena, president of John Vena Inc., Philadelphia, said in a news release.

Orri is a hybrid developed in 1989 by breeders and botanists at Israel’s Volcani Center. 

This season, Israel’s fruit matured much faster than anticipated, leading to a big supply of large fruit in mid-December, which is considered early in the season and hasn’t happened before, according to the release. 

With smaller sizing now picking up, John Vena Inc. created an Orri stand-up pouch bag with breathable mesh to maximize shelf life. The Orri is a premium mandarin meant to be merchandized alongside branded clementines or other specialty mandarin varieties, according to the release.

“I swear, their flavor is like (Kellogg’s) Froot Loops in the best way!” Emily Kohlhas, John Vena director of marketing, said in an e-mail.

Shipments should continue through May.