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Bernard Egan & Co./DNE World Fruit Sales is one of the larger marketers of Florida fresh citrus and is one of the larger independently owned citrus marketers in the world. “2013 marks the 99th year of business for Bernard Egan & Co., parent company of DNE World Fruit,” said DNE Marketing Promotions Manager Kathy Hearl. “Next year we will celebrate our 100 years of business.”

The company’s long history stretches back to the founding of Egan, Fickett & Co. by Joseph B. Egan in 1914. The company began operations as a receiver and distributor of fruit and vegetables in New York. Investments in Florida citrus groves and packinghouses date back to the 1920s, and Mr. Egan’s son, Bernard, joined the company in the 1930s. DNE was established as a marketing division in 1968, and the company was renamed Bernard Egan & Co. in 1989.

DNEDNE’s ‘Ocean Spray’ citrus label.Import opportunities were realized in 1992 when DNE began importing Australian naval oranges. In 1997, DNE entered into a strategic partnership with Ocean Spray. Beginning in 1999, the company became a year-round marketer of citrus after expanding operations in California, Texas and Arizona. The company’s first shipments of South African citrus were received in 2001.

DNE is headquartered in Fort Pierce, FL, and has an import sales office in New Jersey. The company’s loading and shipping locations are found in Florida, Texas, Arizona, California and New Jersey.

Looking at the company’s Florida deal, Ms. Hearl said, “Our current Florida program is exclusively citrus: oranges, tangerines, grapefruit, Honeybells and Minneola tangelos. We expect to venture outside of citrus in the next few years.”

Ms. Hearl was asked how the current Florida citrus crop is progressing. “It has been a difficult crop to manage this year due to the fruit size,” she told The Produce News March 22. “However, the warmer winter has allowed continued growth, which has helped the crop. The cooler weather we’ve experience in early spring has helped the longevity of the fruit. However, we still remain under drought conditions.”

She said fruit volume is down approximately 15 percent on most varieties this season due to fruit droppage in the field. “The droppage has reported to be the worst in 40 years,” she commented. According to Ms. Hearl, eating quality this season is excellent. “But we are seeing more wind scar at the present time,” she added.

The Florida citrus season typically runs from October through May, and DNE is currently promoting Valencia juice oranges and red grapefruit. “We have a broad range in our customer base, with a healthy pie chart amongst all these customer groups,” she stated. “[We are] heavy to retail trade, with ample percentages going through the foodservice and wholesale segments as well.”

DNE markets Florida citrus under the “Riverpride” and “Ocean Spray” labels. “The citrus packed in the ‘Ocean Spray’ label must meet certain standards in order to be packed in this label,” she explained. “All fruit carrying the ‘Ocean Spray’ label significantly exceeds industry standards for maturity and brix. The ‘Ocean Spray’ label is especially helpful for retailers catering to brand conscious shoppers.”

DNE promotes several varieties of citrus under the fresh “Ocean Spray” label including red and white grapefruit, Sunburst tangerines, Cara Cara Navels and Rhode Red Valencias.

The company provides its retailers with customized promotions and packaging options to boost citrus sales and offer value to their customers.

“DNE offers several merchandising opportunities such as in-store demonstrations during peak taste, cross merchandising and promotional support,” Ms. Hearl said.