A successful marketing campaign in the United States has helped an Australian fresh produce company increase its citrus exports by 60 per cent last year.
Pinnacle Fresh is hoping for further 30 per cent increase again this year, which should be evenly split across all varieties. The main driver for increased export numbers, according to Account Manager Daniel Newport, is the successful “Dracula Citrus” campaign that Pinnacle Fresh has been running for the last five years. The brand was originally centred around the blood orange variety in the American market, especially during Halloween.
"America has always been a good market for Blood oranges, so we saw this as an opportunity to capitalise on this,” Mr Newport said. "We developed the Dracula brand because the season coincides so well with Halloween and the brand's clever imagery suits the celebration perfectly. Retailers in the USA start promoting Halloween six weeks ahead of the date, which gave us a six-week window to really drive sales."'
He added that the feedback from the supermarkets was so positive, the company sought to develop the brand beyond Blood Oranges and 'Dracula Citrus' was born. It quickly developed into a recognisable brand in the citrus industry for its Dracula Pink Cara Cara, Dracula Baby Mandarins as well as it’s Dracula Blood Oranges. Mr Newport also hinted that the brand might be developed further in 2020 introducing new members to the Dracula family.
"The USA is by far our biggest export market," he said. "We are fortunate that American supermarkets operate a little differently to other markets, where they seem to love themed marketing. We have been privileged to see so many retailers use our brand to drive their sales in stores. Although America is our largest market, our Citrus and the Dracula brand is also sold in Australia, Canada and multiple markets in Asia. The feedback in each market has been positive and trust in the brands quality and uniqueness is growing."
Overall, Pinnacle Fresh is very excited about the 2020 season and has actually just started the navel orange harvest, with volumes set to peak in July. With the world recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, this year's crop profile seems well suited to the global situation.
"Volume seems to be slightly down for most varieties, but the sizing is slightly up," Mr Newport said. "Considering the uncertainty in some markets, that’s probably a bit of a positive. We endured another dry and windy summer, so quality looks on par to last year. That might not mean it’s going to be the best quality year but last year was known as one of the most successful years for Australian citrus, so to have this year's quality on par, isn't a bad thing."
Navel oranges take up most of production for Pinnacle Fresh, and is the most exported product, ahead of the two mandarin varieties; Afourer and Murcott, which goes to Asia, United Kingdom, United States and Canada.
Mr Newport is hoping that the company can build on an extremely positive year last year, and adds that demand for lemons has been strong for the last decade, despite a lot of new plantings in recent years.
"The demand is still really strong, but I think supply meets the demand now," he said. "This year, COVID-19 has given people a reason to buy more citrus and lemons and oranges are so well known to be good for the immune system, Foodservice sales are much lower but supermarkets are buying far more lemons, oranges & mandarins, so we are fortunate that the majority of our sales are with major retail."