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Sun World to farm out marketing of citrus except lemons and grapefruit

Rick Paul

Sun World International LLC in Bakersfield, CA, which has a diverse citrus program consisting of such products as Navel oranges, lemons, Fairchild tangerines, Minneola Tangelos and grapefruit, will be farming out the marketing this season for everything except the lemons and grapefruit, spitting the volume among three different marketing companies, according to Rick Paul, one of three commodity managers who has been handling various segments of the company’s citrus program.

“With certain items, including Navel oranges and also including stone fruit to some degree — and it will increase — we are phasing out our marketing efforts to focus on our core strengths, which are table grapes and the sweet colored peppers,” Mr. Paul said.

“We feel [to be successful] in the current retail environment, you need to have continuity of volume and supplies, and we don’t,” he continued. “We think we are still going to grow citrus ... and grow stone fruit. And in the case of stone fruit, we will still develop new varieties for licensing both in the United States and internationally. But it will no longer be Sun World marketing that product.”

The marketing of Sun World’s Navels will be “split up” among three different companies, he said. They are Bee Sweet Citrus Inc. in Fowler, CA, Duda Farm Fresh Foods Inc., which is headquartered in Oveida, FL, and has a branch location in Visalia, CA, and Sunwest Fruit Co. Inc. in Parlier, CA.

“Bee sweet has already marketed our Satsumas for years,” Mr. Paul said. “Primarily, that relationship started out because they had fumigation expertise that we didn’t.”

For now, Sun World will continue to do the marketing on its lemons. “We have better continuity of supply there” than on the other items, he said. “But I think they also are on the schedule to be marketed outside at some point in time.” For the short term, “our grapefruit program will continue” to be marketed internally as it has in the past. “California grapefruit is a little bit different” in that it fits into “certain windows.” That is especially true of “the Hemmit [CA] grapefruit deal that comes at a time when Florida and Texas are not factors and there is pretty-high demand. So at this time, we are retaining those.”

Sun World will continue to operate its citrus-packing facility in Coachella, CA, but mainly for custom packing, Mr. Paul said. “We may also do some marketing on some varieties down there, but for the most part we will be a custom packhouse.”