To differentiate meyer lemons from other varieties, Giumarra Wenatchee plans to introduce zipper bags for the lemons this summer with the beginning of the New Zealand deal.

Jason Bushong, sales manager for the Wenatchee, Wash.-based company, said the new retail packages will be available in 1- and 2-pound sizes. Giumarra will continue its 3- and 4-pound clamshells for meyer lemons, which Bushong said are popular in club stores.

“We wanted to do something to help educate consumers about the differences between meyer lemons and other varieties,” Bushong said. “We have a full set of (point-of-sale) materials for retailers to help them display the meyer lemons in such a way that consumers will know they are different.”

Bushong said the first of the crop should begin arriving in the U.S. around July 1 and continue strong into September.

“They were looking really good (in early June),” he said. “The sizes are mostly in the middle range, but we anticipate very good volumes.”

Bushong predicts the meyer lemons from New Zealand will be in the high $30s for 38-pound boxes.

This is the fifth year for Giumarra to import meyer lemons from New Zealand. Bushong said the program has grown an average of 20% per year, with similar growth predicted this season.

The West Coast regions are the strongest for sales, Bushong said, but Giumarra is working with retailers to develop consumer awareness and demand in other regions of the U.S. Bushong said the South, from coast to coast, has the lowest sales of meyer lemons.

“Consumers really started becoming aware of them because of their use in foodservice, especially higher-end restaurants,” Bushong said. “As people started experiencing their unique flavor while dining out they started looking for them in supermarkets.”