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Sunkist Pumps Up The Volume In Recent Valley Transactions

November 16,2017-

Screen Shot 2017-11-16 at 7.59.50 AMSunkist Growers appears to be the winner now that the dust has settled over the future of the independent LoBue citrus empire.

Before this November’s harvest began Sunkist also added more mandarin volume with second deal with Mulholland Citrus as well.

This summer the Lindsay-based LoBue family had been in escrow to sell their 1000 acres to M Park Co of Orange Cove. But sources say the deal never came to fruition, based on financial issues.

So in mid-October Sunkist announced that that Porterville Citrus, a Sunkist affiliated citrus packer-shipper, acquired LoBue Citrus’ packing operations although they did not buy the acreage.

In the agreement, the LoBue family will continue to own and operate their family farms, consisting of 1,000 acres of citrus, with the citrus volume for the first time becoming part of the Sunkist cooperative.

“LoBue Citrus has a rich history in the industry, and we are pleased to be able to help them continue that legacy through our organization,” said Jim Phillips, President of Porterville Citrus. “The purchase also marks further growth for Porterville Citrus, positioning us for a strong season ahead.”

In the upcoming 2017-2018 season, Porterville Citrus will integrate the LoBue Citrus packing facility in Lindsay into their operations and also add a large portion of the organization’s grower network, increasing the Navel orange, mandarin, lemon and specialty acreage of Porterville Citrus and the Sunkist cooperative as a whole.

“It’s great to start the season by adding more high quality volume to our mix,” said Russ Hanlin, President & CEO of Sunkist Growers.

Mandarin Volume To Double

In a second boost for Sunkist, the co-op announced a few weeks earlier that another formerly independent grower, Mulholland Citrus of Orange Cove, joined up with Sunkist helping to add new mandarin flavor to the Sunkist lineup, considered short on this variety volume before.

Sunkist will now ship Sunkist Delite™ California mandarins, kicking off the 2017-18 citrus season with increased volumes in their mandarin program, reportedly doubling Sunkist’s mandarin shipments.

“Sunkist’s mandarin program now leverages the Delite name, the original California mandarin brand, created by the first family to grow and market Murcott mandarins in California.

Projected to pack 8 million 5-pound carton equivalents of mandarins annually, Mulholland Citrus will join the network of packinghouses that comprise the Sunkist cooperative.

“Our family began growing mandarins because the variety offers so much for consumers – convenience, nutrition and of course sweet, delicious flavor,” said Heather Mulholland, a fourth generation citrus grower in Orange Cove, California. “California has an ideal climate for growing citrus, and we take pride in the quality we are able to achieve in our groves. Sunkist Delite mandarins will offer consumers everywhere a fresh taste of California.”

Tom Mulholland, the company CEO first introduced easy-peel murcott mandarins to the US market some 20 years ago.

“The evolution of our mandarin program is based on current consumer trends,” said Sunkist Director of Communications Joan Wickham. “This season marked an opportunity to take a new approach that emphasizes quality and authenticity, inherent attributes of the Sunkist and Delite brands that drive consumer purchasing behaviors today.”

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