California’s citrus season has started on some varieties. “This is the second week of packing Navel oranges for North America,” says Dan Kass with Suntreat. Export will commence in about two weeks. Harvest of the company’s signature variety, Sumo Citrus®, won’t start until early January, followed by minneolas in late January. Other citrus varieties for Suntreat include I’m Pink™ cara cara oranges, Sukis™ gold nugget mandarins, pummelos, grapefruit and lemons.
Different, but juicy and seedless
“We grow some unique citrus varieties and are a leader in specialty citrus,” shared Kass. Suntreat considers itself an expert in growing and handling exceptionally delicate fruit. “The best example is probably our Sumo Citrus® program which has been commercially available in California since 2011. It looks a bit different, but it’s a consistent product that is easy to peel, juicy and seedless,” Kass said. “However, it requires painstaking care from the farm to the packing house and we are the only grower/shipper to offer this extraordinary mandarin.”
Gold Nugget rebranded to Suki™
Gold Nugget mandarins are another specialty product from Suntreat. Last year, the company rebranded its Gold Nuggets to Suki™ to differentiate them from other Gold Nugget mandarins in the market. “Compared to other growers, our variety is handled differently, and the rebrand distinguishes them from other products on the market.” They come in colorful packaging, which has resulted in a lift in sales last season. “Within the first year of the rebrand, customers were asking for Sukis instead of Gold Nuggets, which shows the success of the new name,” said Kass. In addition to California, both Sumo Citrus® and Sukis™ are also grown in Australia between June and late November.
In addition to Sukis™, cara cara blood oranges were rebranded to I’m Pink™ cara cara oranges. “The feedback has been very positive: retailers have embraced the new look and customers are now more easily able to identify the eye-catching packaging as well as superior flavor,” Kass commented. The brand has seen a 40-60 percent lift in sales since the rebrand.
Brett Burdsal and Dan Kass with Suntreat
Amsterdam Produce Show
Next week, Suntreat will make its debut as an exhibitor at the Amsterdam Produce Show. “I’ve been to the show as an attendee in the past two years and have been impressed with the quality of the event,” Kass said. “We will be exhibiting with the intent to further develop our business in Europe.” Last year, the company trialled exports of minneolas and tangerines to the UK, the Netherlands, France and Switzerland. “The first exports went well, and our goal is to further develop our business in Europe, where we compete with stem and leaf mandarins from Morocco and Spain.” At the show, Suntreat will also be showcasing Columbine Vineyard Holiday Seedless grapes. Suntreat is part of the AC Foods family and Columbine Vineyard joined AC Foods earlier this year.