How To Sell More Citrus Year-Round


A full store promotion, according to Blake Lee of Bristol Farms, “is always a great way to engage customers and have them learn the many ways to enjoy citrus.”

Seasonal themes are an excellent method to bring excitement to the citrus category year-round.

“Winter is citrus season, when U.S.-grown citrus is in the midst of its highest level of available offerings to retailers and consumers alike. It’s also when citrus is of premium quality,” says Christina Ward, director of global brand marketing for Sunkist Growers, in Valencia, CA. “Creating a citrus destination at the retail level by using secondary displays will highlight every variety and their taste profiles and attributes. By making citrus easy to shop through secondary display bins, sales have shown a 20 percent increase over previous years, even in a down citrus market.”

Citrus, due to its high vitamin C content, is often marketed as a flu fighter during the winter.

“Limoneira’s ‘Take a Healthy Stand Lemon Mobile’ will be traveling throughout the United States in 2020 to our customers where we will work with retail dietitians,” says John Chamberlain, vice president of marketing for the Santa Paula, CA-based global citrus company.

The company also has a new program that features its own App. “Our new ‘Produce Department is Nature’s Pharmacy’ program has an App that can be used by consumers in grocery stores to quickly and easily search for specific fruits and vegetables. Both of these use research supported by the National Institute of Health to provide ways to use citrus to address serious medical issues and to enhance beneficial attributes for healthy skin, hair, vision etc,” adds Chamberlain.

Spring blooms with even more focus on specialty citrus varieties including the Gold Nugget variety of Mandarins, Ojai Pixie Tangerines and California Star ruby grapefruit. Beyond this, lemons sell well when cross merchandised with fish for Lent and limes in May for Cinco de Mayo.

In the summer, and especially for holidays such as the Fourth of July, “cross merchandize and create a bundled promotion with peaches and grapefruit for making fruit salsas; oranges, stone fruit and grapes around a fruit salad or picnic theme; and oranges for making an iced sangria,” suggests Florida Classic’s Al Finch.

The benefit of promoting imported citrus during the summer is that it’s less volatile, says Kelly Dietz, vice president of business development for Greenyard USA/Seald Sweet, a year-round citrus supplier based in Vero Beach, FL. “For example, retailers can forecast further out when it comes to availability and pricing due to the longer transit time. Other summer fruits, such as cherries and berries, are much more volatile.”

In the late summer and early fall, “several retailers we work with group easy peelers and a 3-pound bag of imported Navels in ads starting in August for back to school,” says Florida Classic’s Al Finch.

Citrus category sales ramp up in late fall as the domestic season starts, and winter holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas boost demand.

“Citrus is one of the more durable items in a produce market plus you have some bright colors to work with,” says Earl McGrath of Freshfields. “I think you need to use that to your advantage. Push the envelope a bit with the height and size of your displays. Build something that calls attention to your market.

“Also, know what to push when and when to not carry a particular item. Promoting any fruit that won’t please a customer with its taste, ultimately, is going to cost you business in the long term.”