Error

Close

search
OPN Connect Newsletter 241 · October 28, 2021

California Organic Citrus Crops Promotable, but Volume Down


Searing heat this summer and other factors combined to reduce the volume of many of California’s citrus varieties, but there will still be plenty of opportunities to promote the organic citrus category through this fall and into the spring of 2022.

“Because of the heat this summer, the crop did not set well,” said Homegrown Organic Farms’ Craig Morris, speaking specifically of navel oranges. “But we will have ad opportunities this season. What we are going to see is at the tail end of the season, we will run out of supplies earlier. Usually, we last into May with navels, but this year we will probably end in April.”

Soli Organic1 January 2022

The citrus category manager for the Porterville, CA, company said overall growers are looking at a navel crop that is about 35 percent less than last year’s very large crop. Because there continues to be transitional organic acreage coming on board each year, Morris said organic supplies should not drop to the same extent as the overall crop, but they will be down significantly. Weekly volumes will not be impacted as significantly as the reduction in volume will mostly be felt by a shorter season.

Craig Morris, Citrus Category Manager, Homegrown Organic Farms

“What we are going to see is at the tail end of the season we will run out of supplies earlier. Usually, we last into May with navels, but this year we will probably end in April.” – Craig Morris

Vitalis Jan 2022

Organic navel orange shipments from Homegrown will begin the first week of November, with other organic citrus varieties maturing in about one-week intervals over the next month or so, Morris said. “We are expecting to have lemons on Nov. 8, satsumas on Nov. 9, grapefruit on the 15th, clementines on Nov. 16, and Cara Caras and pomelos by Dec. 7,” he said.

Morris reiterated that while almost all the varieties will see a decline in volume, there will be promotional opportunities throughout the season.  “Organic navel oranges will be promotable for Thanksgiving, and [organic] navels, lemons, and grapefruit will be available for Christmas promotions.”

While reduced volume of the magnitude being projected might mean bigger fruit and higher FOB prices, Morris tamped down those potential outcomes. He said there should be stronger pricing than last year, “but we still expect to offer reasonable pricing. The price still has to make sense at retail.”

Soli Organic2 January 2022

“Organic navel oranges will be promotable for Thanksgiving, and [organic] navels, lemons, and grapefruit will be available for Christmas promotions.” – Craig Morris

And while a smaller fruit set usually results in larger fruit, early indications are that the organic navel trees appear to have a normal size portfolio this season.

Bianca Kaprielian, co-founder of Fruit World Company in Reedley, CA, agreed with Morris that citrus production will be down and that there will be promotional opportunities over the next six months for the organic citrus category. Except for some mandarins, which are transitioning to organic production, Fruit World is an all-organic shipper.


Bianca Kaprielian, Co-Founder, Fruit World Company

Starting with navels, Kaprielian gave a detailed roundup of a handful of citrus varieties. “We are two weeks later than last year on our navels for a combination of factors,” she said. “But the sugar/acid ratio is really good right now. Usually, we are chasing sugar but not this year.”

Fruit World picked its first organic navel oranges on October 25 and is predicting it will have 10-20 percent less yield per acre than last season. The two-week-later start and an expectation that the season will end earlier should not impact weekly volumes from last year.

“There will be good promotable volume into January and February, but I’m hopeful pricing will be better because costs have gone up. From boxes to pallets to labor, everything is more expensive,” Kaprielian said.

NatureSafe Jan 2022

Lemons are “the most promotable citrus” with very good volume currently coming out of the California desert, Kaprielian said, adding that the volume on organic sweet limes from the desert is tracking higher, while the organic Rio Red grapefruit crop is seeing average volume but very strong demand because of the devastating freeze in Texas in February.

“There will be good promotable volume into January and February, but I’m hopeful pricing will be better because costs have gone up. From boxes to pallets to labor, everything is more expensive.” – Bianca Kaprielian

The California mandarin crop will take a big hit this year, with industry-wide production down as much as 50 percent, Kaprielian said. Fruit World is anticipating a roughly 40-percent reduction in its organic mandarin crop this season, with promotable volume of organic mandarins limited to mid-November to mid-January. However, the organic minneola crop out of the Central Valley looks very good and could offer a cost-effective ad alternative to organic mandarins.

Christina Ward, senior director of global marketing at Sunkist Growers, takes a very positive 40,000-foot view of organic citrus. “As the organic category continues to grow, so does the demand for organic citrus,” she said. “According to IRI data, organic citrus volume is up 12 percent, and organic citrus sales are up 15 percent. We continue to offer a robust portfolio to meet increasing consumer demand.”

Christina Ward, Senior Director of Global Marketing, Sunkist Growers

Ocean Mist Jan 2022

Looking specifically at this season, Ward said that the volume of the organic navel crop will be slightly down, with slightly smaller sizing due to a lack of rain during the growing season. On the other hand, she said she expects an increased volume of organic lemons.

“As the organic category continues to grow, so does the demand for organic citrus.” – Christina Ward

Sunkist does offer a full complement of organic citrus crops, and Ward said as the season progresses, the Sunkist portfolio of varieties will expand.

“January is a great time to promote organic citrus at retail,” she said. “Not only are more consumers focused on committing to a healthier lifestyle, but so many organic varieties are in season and available at that time. There are many opportunities to partner with organic citrus buyers to create promotional programs that reach shoppers and inspire purchases.”

Ward is also excited about Sunkist’s new organic packaging that will be fully rolled out in January in time for the key organic promotional period. “The new packaging portfolio was developed for the entire assortment of organics, starting with updated pouch bags for Sunkist organic lemons. The new packaging designs celebrate our California heritage and feature the iconic Sunkist lollipop logo, first introduced in the ‘60s and brought back by popular demand.”

Global Organics Group Jan 2022
OPS Retailer Registration January 2022

Want Fresh News Delivered Regularly?

Sign up for OPN Connect 

Stay current on all the most important news
and features with our weekly newsletter.

Sign Up Todaykeyboard_arrow_right