Supplies of California Gold Nugget mandarins are still plentiful.
“The fruit is great quality this year. It’s eating really well and there’s nice sizing, too. It’s a good piece of fruit,” says Sandra Bertelli of Fruition Sales, home of Ripe to You citrus, in Reedley, CA, who notes that overall volume currently is slightly more than last year at this time. Bertelli anticipates Nuggets to go well into May as per usual and perhaps even into June, depending on sales.
As it stands, demand is on the lighter side for Gold Nuggets. “There hasn’t been any cadence to it. We ended last season very strong because the pandemic had started and you couldn’t keep up with demand for the last six weeks of the season,” says Bertelli. She adds that retailers are saying the same thing, that they’re unsure of what to order week to week given there’s no consistent rhythm for sales in retail. “I think part of it is COVID-19--grocery stores have had to change their footprint in the produce departments because of social distancing. And some stores have dropped SKUs so they’re not carrying as many items,” she says.
The challenge with Nuggets
That said, Bertelli does note there’s some resistance on Nugget sales because people are looking more for Tangoes and W. Murcotts. “The Gold Nugget requires a little more care because it has a little more fragile rind. In years past, people have had bad experiences with the fruit so there’s just a little resistance to it. It’s a good piece of fruit. But it’s not always what people think of when they think of a mandarin,” she says.
As for pricing, it is consistent with last year’s pricing. Looking ahead though, as stone fruit and increasingly, more berries come onto the market, that will put more pressure on moving Gold Nuggets. “There’s still a lot of fruit out there from shippers. But I think we’ll come out okay,” says Bertelli.