Supplies of imported summer citrus look to be consistent right now. “The past seasons have shown tremendous growth in availability, and supply is no longer a concern, especially during August through October, up until the domestic season starts in November,” says Zak Laffite, president of Wonderful Citrus.
Right now, summer citrus is coming from South Africa, Peru and Uruguay--Wonderful Halos branded Easy Peelers are arriving from South Africa as well as oranges. “We have an exclusive relationship with a large grower and exporter in South Africa which provides significant volumes of fruit that meet our taste and quality expectations,” says Laffite. “This is extremely important since the fruit quality of Wonderful Halos allows the brand to continue to deliver upon its sweet, seedless and easy-to-peel virtues.”
At the same time, new varieties of citrus being planted in the Southern Hemisphere include Wonderful Seedless Lemons, Leanri and Mayana easy peelers. Lemons are being sourced from both Argentina and Chile.
Compared to historical timing, Wonderful Citrus’ summer import program began much earlier this season. “This is due to California’s extended supply in 2021,” comments Laffite. “Overall, crop conditions in the southern hemisphere, combined with logistical challenges delayed import sales by roughly two weeks.”
Meanwhile, he expects demand for summer imported citrus to continue to grow. “We’ve seen a peaked interest in citrus subcategories for their functional benefits and convenience. Consumers continue to seek out good-for-you snacks that they can incorporate into their healthier lifestyles, especially ones offered by citrus." Easy peeler varieties are particularly driving that growth. “As availability has grown, seedless fruit and delivering on quality and appearance is key to success.”
Laffite is seeing higher pricing and higher velocity with greater traction for this summer import program. “Due to inflation, as well as labor shortages, which directly impact fuel, freight and warehousing costs and access, pricing has been impacted. Additionally, international shipping and worldwide supply chain issues stemming from the pandemic are still prevalent — these challenges increase costs and result in delays in shipments, but we’re hopeful they will improve over the next several months. Overall prices have increased from last season, although these increases do not come close to covering the increased costs for growers.”
Fall citrus outlook
Looking ahead, imported Wonderful Halos are entering the promotional season in time for the back-to-school season. Domestic Wonderful Halos will return to stores in November, coinciding with a targeted multi-million-dollar marketing campaign, including social media, in-store POS displays and a collection of colorful stickers as part of that campaign. “Last season’s regionally targeted social media campaign drove higher sales growth in ad markets versus non-ad markets during the campaign period. Wonderful Halos will also launch an updated POS lineup, including a new Halos display and holiday-themed accessories that will be available for the upcoming California season,” says Laffite.
Wonderful Citrus will also bring back its Wonderful Seedless Lemons for a fourth year. “Volumes of this new, naturally seedless, non-GMO Project verified lemon variety are still limited. While we’re focused on select markets and channels for now, this product will be a game-changer in produce as production grows over the next few years," he finished.