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AU: Yields and demand up for Sumo Citrus® mandarins
A significant increase to the Sumo Citrus® mandarin yield in 2017 has been met by strong consumer demand, according to the appointed Australasian marketing and distribution operations company, Freshmax Australia.
Sumo Citrus® is a licensed and controlled variety that is grown by a managed group of roughly 20 growers across three major regions: Riverina, Sunraysia and the Riverlands. The variety is a hybrid between a mandarin and an orange, and is only available between July and September each year.
"This year we have seen a considerable increase in crop volumes and continued improvements to packouts," Will Snell, General Manager Sales at Freshmax Australia said. "But this has been easily met by the continued excitement and engagement we are seeing from consumers."
Dale Ind, Freshmax Australia's Supply Manager, says that in the last few years growers of the variety have been unlucky with weather conditions ahead of harvest, with heavy rainfall in major growing regions such as Leeton. However, this year they have not experienced the same challenges and so are experiencing a bumper crop of excellent fruit.
"With a large proportion of the trees planted now starting to mature we are seeing considerable increases to both yield and packout quality across all growing regions," he said. "This year we expect to pack roughly double what we did last year."
Originating in Japan over forty years ago, the variety is naturally large in size, and has a top knot with bright orange, bumpy and loose skin so it peels effortlessly. But Freshmax Australia believes that the marketing of the fruit, assisted by a major supermarket, helps drive demand higher each year.
"We continue to see strong and supportive engagement from our national retail partner Woolworths in helping us to promote Sumo Citrus® to consumers and to educate them on its features, benefits and points of difference from other citrus lines," Freshmax National Account Manager Rattana Pin said. "As a result we are seeing a flow of product through Woolworths Distribution Centres that continues to impress us."
The company says the growing arrangement between themselves, growers and packers ensures the best quality fruit reaches the market.
"We have one appointed packer in SA and one in NSW, enabling us to impose strong quality controls at the packing stage," Andrew Maughan, General Manager IP & Commercial at Freshmax Australia said. "Right across the supply chain, Freshmax plays a highly engaged role. At the growing level we work with dedicated Field Agronomists to support this grower group in improving their yield and producing the best quality fruit."
Freshmax says with Sumo Citrus® being a hybrid, it makes it more versatile in terms of usage, as opposed to the original varieties.
"Generally speaking mandarins offer a sweeter flavour profile than traditional citrus lines, such as navels," Group Marketing Manager Matthew Crouch said. "Sumo Citrus® is at the high end of this high brix trend. This means it certainly lends itself to a range of sweeter, lighter recipe features that the sourer citrus flavours could not be considered for. Equally, a lot of the bloggers and food stylists we have worked with indicate that Sumo Citrus® peel has a lot of unique characteristics in terms of texture, oils and flavour that are different to any other citrus they have worked with."
Mr Crouch, who won the coveted Marketer of the Year Award for his 2015 Sumo Citrus campaign, also added that the company will be taking samples of Sumo Citrus to this year’s Asiafruit Expo in Hong Kong, given the amazing response it received there last year.
"We are sharing a stand with our fellow Freshmax Group Subsidiary Valleyfresh (stand G15) – if you are attending, come along and try some," he said.
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