Lots of sumo citrus available this season
It’s high season for Sumo Citrus® from California. Farmers started dispatching large EC peelers by the end of December and the fruits are expected to be available till April. It’s a wet start to the season, and while rain in California is welcome and necessary for continued growth, it can put constraints on harvest planning. “To harvest, the skin must be dry or risk future damage,” said AC Foods vice president of sales Ron Steele.
This prevents harvesting during the rains and allows the team to closely monitor when and where to harvest between storms. “Regardless of the weather, our rigorous taste and quality remain the same. All Sumo citrus are fruit tested before and after harvest to ensure they meet the sweet taste desired by consumers,” added Steele.
Despite the wet start, Sumo Citrus volume and sales are expected to increase compared to the 2022 season. Consumers can find Sumo Citrus in more stores than ever before and in North America, sales are expanding from the US to Canada. Initially, Sumo Citrus was only available individually, but last year a 2-lb bag was introduced. “Our 2-lb bag will be available in even more locations this season, and we’re excited to give consumers another way to get enough fruit for their homes.”
Whether it’s the appearance, the very sweet taste, or both, sumo citrus has developed a legion of “super fans” in recent years. Social media like Facebook and Instagram have helped it gain exposure, and this year Sumo Citrus will feature on TikTok after going viral on the platform last year. “We love the opportunity to meet our shoppers and show them what the Sumo Citrus hype is all about,” said Emma Koehler, assistant brand manager at AC Foods. Additionally, digital media is a great way to increase brand awareness online and encourage in-store purchases.
Volume growth Working with retail partners to create personalized sales promotions. “Coupons are a great way to drive sales, and after two seasons of limited demo opportunities, we’re excited to implement in-store demos on a larger scale.” In addition, the large and beautiful in-store displays are real showstoppers every year. With bright purple branding and some team members wearing sumo citrus outfits, it’s nice to see the retailers’ creativity.
Sumo citrus may have a short season, but this year its presence will extend beyond the produce aisle. “In San Francisco, Sacramento and Phoenix, Sumo Citrus is popping up all over the city, from billboards and traffic to street model groups.
Sumo Citrus also has fans outside of the United States. Dan Kass, VP, Import and Export Sales: “While global shipping has proven challenging in recent years in aggressively growing overseas markets, AC Foods has been able to increase exports. The past few seasons have seen key countries for Sumo Citrus’ export program. The United Kingdom, the Netherlands, South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and South America.”
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