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New varieties, better imports, resilient growers, creative marketing and consumers eating healthier all foretell good sales ahead
Cuties, too, are shipped in colorful boxes that attract attention on the sales floor. Graphics show a cartoonish Cutie unzipping its skin — emphasizing how easy Cuties are to peel.
Food City’s Perry said she’ll build an endcap of tangerines in December with spillovers of Cuties. She and her associates also will tie ribbons around boxes of Cuties and other clementines and set them with fruit baskets in floral.
“People pick them up to take as a house gift,” Perry said.
Other retailers, who pointed to the ever-increasing variety of citrus, said they also create interest by merchandising citrus items in different ways. Sometimes they merchandize in bins and in paper tote bags, in addition to using endcaps and other conventional ways to show them off.
At upscale Newport Avenue Market in Bend, Ore., navel oranges are presented with honey crisp apples and other fall fruits, arranged on a middle-of-the-floor display that includes a full-sized, real tractor.
“We have so much produce. I just talked to my major supplier in Portland, and he told me citrus is plentiful in all categories this year,” said Brian Moothart, produce manager at the single-unit store.
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Droughts in Texas, shortened growing seasons in California, and continued disease-plagued crops in Florida threatened to reduce a ready supply of quality produce, but retailers, like Moothart, said they’re not worried.
With domestic growers’ improved operations, more quality imports, and still-emerging new varieties of citrus, the category is strong, SN’s sources said.
“We’ll be getting California navels later this month. At the end of that season, then we’ll get high sugar navels from Australia. They’re jumbo-sized,” Moothart said.
He also stressed that he’ll have plenty of Meyer lemons and blood oranges.
But the adverse weather conditions in many places have caused Moothart and other produce managers to make good use of their brix meters, instruments that measure sugar levels in fruits.
“We like big fruit that tastes good,” Moothart said, “and our growers know that. Fruit has to be really sweet. If my brix meter doesn’t show a high enough sugar level, I’ll refuse the shipment.”