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Sunkist Handles Challenges of Big Navel Crop, Tough Competition

March 8,2017-
Screen Shot 2017-03-08 at 1.40.41 PMSunkist Growers had a strong year in 2016 despite the challenges of a large navel orange crop, tough completion both foreign and domestic, as well as lower FOB prices.

The California farm cooperative “responded well, moving an additional 3.5 million cartons into the fresh market generating revenue to support over $1 billion in member payments for the third time in the company’s history ”said Chairman of Board Russ Hanlin.

At the the co-op’s annual meeting held February 22, Tulare County orange farmer Gerald Denni was re-elected as chairman of Sunkist’s Board of Directors during the meeting. “Working hand in hand with management, the board is pleased with the way we managed a very large crop in 2016, but we are now keenly focused on current industry challenges and building a stronger Sunkist for the future,” said Denni.

Founded in 1893, the Sunkist cooperative of family farms offers more than 40 fresh citrus varieties and remains a brand that has been trusted by customers and consumers for over a century, clearly the best known citrus brand.

Not all varieties did well in this atmosphere and the high volume year did not treat all growers the same says a Sunkist statement. “However, as is often the case with large crops, the distribution of revenue did not flow equally among our grower base. Strong portfolios with good sets, size and exportability did well, but without those attributes getting back a satisfactory return was challenging.”

FOBs were down 6 percent for both navels and Valencias.

The Cara Cara crop, like others, was also much larger than initially projected and posed similar challenges to move. However, “research has shown that this variety holds tremendous promise for repeat purchase after trial.

“Sunkist’s sales and marketing staff is working diligently to educate our trade customers, domestically and in export markets, about the opportunity Caras offer and how to promote this variety’s flavor and nutrition profile to capitalize on that opportunity. Demand continues to expand for blood oranges, as does our supply…”

Meanwhile competition in the “California easy-peel market continues to intensify, with heavy supplies in production posing challenges.”

Sunkist supply of easy-peel mandarins is around 2.5 million cartons , a fraction of the navel volume at 26 million cartons and some are concerned these tangerine varieties being marketed by big non-Sunkist rival growers are taking away market share from navels and Sunkist

Regards the Valencia crop 2016 tonnage was almost double that in 2015 – 96 thousand tons in 2016- almost as much as navels which totaled 103 thousand tons.

Regards lemons Mr Denni says US growers had a good year and are cheering the US Department of Agriculture statement banning the importation of fresh lemons from northwestern Argentina to the US for 60 days.

The latest update on this year’s oranges came recently from USDA. The 2016 – 2017 California Navel orange forecast is 44.0 million boxes, up 5 percent from the October forecast, and down 3 percent from last season’s crop. The 2016-2017 Navel orange harvest began in late October. The 2016 – 2017 Valencia orange forecast is 9.0 million boxes, up 6 percent the October forecast, and up 3 percent from last season’s crop.

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