Suntreat has begun shipment of its exclusive Sumo citrus, which continues through April. This year marks the third commercial crop by the same group of citrus growers who originally brought the wildly popular fruit to California from Japan, where it is known as Dekopon or Shiranui.
Retailers and consumers have responded well to the Sumo for several reasons, according to the company. It is easy to peel, sweet and seedless, but bigger than the popular Mandarin.
Because of limited volume in its first season, availability was restricted to just a few California retail markets in the northern and southern part of the state. Last year saw enough volume to supply the California market and provide introductory shipments to select retailers nationally.
Maturing trees will support a production increase this season, allowing regional distribution expansion throughout a slightly longer season.
“Last year’s supplies were snapped up by late March through mostly local markets,” said Al Imbimbo, Suntreat’s vice president of sales and marketing. “This year’s volume will allow us to provide adequate, promotable supplies to our customers outside California for the first time.”
The International Federation for Produce Standards recently granted a unique PLU 3632, so retailers can ensure that cashiers ring up the fruit accurately.
“Our retail customers will now also have the convenience of scanning and can begin to compile sales data for the item,” Mr. Imbimbo said.
Suntreat also recently hired Franco Bernardi as general manager, adding to the developments during the late citrus season. Mr. Bernardi joins Suntreat after eight seasons with Duda Farm Fresh Foods Inc. in Visalia, CA.