DNE World Citrus Sales in Fort Pierce, FL, had an excellent first half of its season and is now looking for a post-holiday surge for its grapefruit and other midseason citrus varieties, according to Florida Citrus Sales Manager Kevin Swords.
“Traditionally New Year’s resolutions and diets have been what makes the grapefruit market move in the second half,” Mr. Swords said. Early-season grapefruit is primarily an export item “and that demand was decent. We’re appreciative of the exports market and what it adds in the early season. But grapefruit is always more of a second half-of-the-season push. The real jumpstart for grapefruit is New Year’s resolutions.”
Demand for DNE’s other citrus products has remained strong, though fruit size has been a little smaller than usual, as is the case throughout Florida.
“We’ll start adding the mid-season oranges in the middle of December — pineapple oranges, mid-sweets — 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,” Mr. Swords said. “Sunburst tangerines are going to finish a little earlier than past, the 13th or 15th of December. 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. We’re making preparations to go right into the Honeys and avoid a gap. The Orlando tangelos we are packing will be stretched to the 20th of December then they’ll be finished. The Florida Navels we feel will get through the 20th of December and finish. It’s been a nice go — we’ve had strong promotional support on the key items we needed it on.”
He continued, “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 made the season tighter on certain crops, in particular Navels and both our tangerine varieties.”
In addition to smaller-sized fruit, cosmetic appearance has been off a little this season with more outside blemishes.
“Eating quality has been very good, but we’re having one of those years where there’s a little more outside blemish than we would like, causing some packouts to be lower depending on the crop,” Mr. Swords said. “Again we find ways or different outlets to move that product, but overall the fruit just has a bit more outside blemish than we would like to see, which means fewer cartons getting packed. That and the size makes it a challenge on some crops and we find a different package to promote them in and get through the crop — we just go a different angle with the right package.”