The holiday season marks halftime for Florida citrus, and DNE World Citrus Sales of Ft. Pierce, FL, has had a terrific first half, according to Florida Citrus Sales Manager Kevin Swords.
“It’s been a nice go — we’ve had strong promotional support on the key items we needed it on,” Mr. Swords said. “The one unfortunate thing we’re experiencing is a couple of these crops peaked out lighter than we expected so it’s probably helping on the f.o.b. marketwise and to stretch the season, but overall packaging is where it’s stretched.We’ve had enough volume to cover the promotional support, but it’s making the season tighter on certain crops, in particular Navels and both our tangerine varieties.”
DNE’s Fallglo and Sunburst tangerines have moved briskly, as have Navel and juice oranges.
“Movement has been very good on all items — the Sunbursts, Fallglos, the Hamelin oranges, the Navels — we’ve gotten the promotional support we needed and things have been moving quite well there,” Mr. Swords said.
Grapefruit demand has been light, but traditionally New Year’s resolutions and diets have been what make that market move in the second half.
Early-season grapefruit is primarily an export item, “and that demand has been decent. We’re appreciative of the export market and what it adds or there wouldn’t be that demand to pack any kind of grapefruit volume this time of year,” Mr. Swords said. “Grapefruit has not been a heavily moved item yet, but it never is this time of year. It’s more of a second half of the season push. But the traditional items promoted in the first half of the season are moving very well.”
And though supplies are a little lighter than they will be later in the season to meet orders and make ads, “You harvest towards your demand — with a retailer who’s promoting, you harvest for them,” Mr. Swords said.
DNE will begin transitioning to mid-season varieties in mid-December. The exception is the Sunburst tangerines, “which are going to finish a little earlier than normal — we hope to get to the 15th of December,” Mr. Swords said. The plan is to switch to Honey tangerines as soon as possible. That crop does not usually come on until the end of December but “we’re pushing our field guys to run all the tests and study the crop of the honey tangerines with hopes that we can go right into them when the Sunbursts are finished — time will tell there.”
“We’ll start adding the mid-season oranges in the middle of December — pineapple oranges, Midsweets and still have the Hamelins and go probably through the middle of February and transition into the Valencias and finish out the season with Valencias.”
“The challenge this season as well as picking out light is the size of the fruit — it’s one of those years where fruit’s smaller, at least on the Sunburst tangerine and grapefruit in general,” Mr. Swords said. “That makes it a challenge, but we find a different package to promote them in and get through the crop — we just go a different angle with the right package.”