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OPN Connect Newsletter 343 · October 26, 2023

Fruit World’s Year-Round Organic Lemon Program Shows Strong Sales Growth


While production is down this season, Fruit World’s year-round organic lemon program is thriving overall.

The Reedley, California-based company sources its organic lemons from all three California citrus growing districts—the Desert Region, the Central Valley, and the Coastal Region/Ventura County. 

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“We love our year-round organic lemon program—thank you California!” says Fruit World Co-founder and CEO Bianca Kaprielian. “We work with a handful of organic lemon growers, and we sell a portion of their lemon crop each year. They are located in all three districts, which is what allows us to have a year-round lemon program. Our lemons compete with oranges and mandarins as our number one commodity sold.”

Bianca Kaprielian, Co-Founder and CEO, Fruit World

The start of Fruit World’s organic lemon season kicked off last month in the Desert Region, where production is down 15-20 percent, and Kaprielian says she’s anticipating a similar trend for the Central Valley crop, which begins harvest in late December. While she’s not certain of the precise cause of the decline in yield, her best guess is that it’s the result of a combination of factors.

Vitalis April 2024

“Due to drought, the trees had been deficit irrigated for a number of years,” she says. “After the heavy rains earlier this year, they got a big, long drink of water, and it appears they put that energy into foliage growth and less into bloom growth. We also had some very hot days during bloom period, which caused blossoms (which eventually become fruit) to drop.” 

“We work with a handful of organic lemon growers, and we sell a portion of their lemon crop each year. They are located in all three districts, which is what allows us to have a year-round lemon program.” - Bianca Kaprielian

Due to their staple status, Kaprielian says organic lemons always have “pretty consistent demand.” She notes that Fruit World has had “sizable” sales growth in its organic lemon program over the past few years, which she attributes to increased production by the company’s Desert Region growers as well as the high quality of their fruit. “Lemons have gone from our #3 item to competing to be our #1 item,” she says.

In terms of organic lemon pricing, Kaprielian says that it’s currently “very strong as the season is just starting up and volume is limited, especially on larger-sized fruit.” She notes that recently volume out of Mexico has been lighter than usual (likely due to weather-related factors), which has led to strong demand for California lemons.

“By early November we’ll start to see prices soften because there will be more fruit available, and by mid-November, we should see pricing stabilize,” she says. On the cost side of things, Kaprielian says farming, harvesting, and packing expenses have all increased significantly and appear poised to continue on an upward trajectory.   

“Lemons have gone from our #3 item to competing to be our #1 item.” - Bianca Kaprielian

Fruit World sells its lemons to a variety of customers throughout the United States and in Canada. “Our organic lemon trees produce all grades and sizes of lemons, and it’s important to us and our growers that we sell the whole tree,” Kaprielian says. “The margins back to the farm are very slim these days, so maximizing utilization is extremely important. We work hard to have a variety of customers to ensure all the fruit gets sold. Our customers range from major retailers to single-store retailers, wholesalers of all sizes, direct-to-consumer businesses, processors, and juicers.”

Homegrown Organic Farms April 2024

This year, Kaprielian notes that thrips damage, which mars the exterior of the fruit, is more prevalent, particularly in the Desert Region. She says Fruit World has been reaching out to its customers to encourage them to educate consumers that the damage does not affect the interior fruit quality. Kaprielian also notes that desert-grown lemons are more prone to wind scarring, given the windier conditions of that region.

Fruit World’s organic lemons are available in the company’s signature colorful, bold packaging. The company offers a standard 2-pound bag (both vertical film and combo bag options) and can work with retailers to do custom-size packs as well. Bulk cartons are also available.

“Our organic lemon trees produce all grades and sizes of lemons, and it’s important to us and our growers that we sell the whole tree.” - Bianca Kaprielian

“Because of our commitment to the environment and sustainability, we’re always looking for new and more sustainable pack styles for our customers,” Kaprielian says. “This looks like recyclable packaging and more bulk sales.” 

When it comes to merchandising and marketing organic lemons, Kaprielian suggests taking advantage of their vibrant appearance and versatile use. “Lemons are a great pop of fresh color to any display and can really freshen things up in the dead of winter! Some of our customers have cross-merchandized them with mixers and spirits or fish and meats. Because lemons are a staple in every kitchen, cross-merchandizing them throughout the store helps ensure customers pick some up.” 

Creekside Organics April 2024
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