BLOOD ORANGES
CARE: Store at 38-48 degrees. Shelf life is three to eight weeks.
NUTRITIONAL VALUE: Blood oranges are high in vitamin C and dietary fiber and contain 70 calories per orange.
AVAILABILITY: Mid-December through June

(Dec. 8) Even during the cold of winter, cool, juicy citrus fruit can tempt anyone’s taste buds. Capture your consumers’ curiosity with blood oranges and clementines.

Known for their deep pink or red-streaked flesh, blood oranges are thought to have been developed in Sicily during the 17th century and brought to the U.S. by Italian and Spanish immigrants in the 1930s. Blood oranges have a rich orange flavor with raspberry and strawberry undertones and are sweeter and juicier than navel oranges.

Scott Mason, produce manager at the Wild Oats Market in Phoenix, part of the 100-store chain based in Boulder, Colo., displays blood oranges spilling out of wooden stair-stepped crates in the front of the store. He places several cut oranges around the display so customers can see the fruit’s signature red coloring.

Mason displays 12 cases at a time in the store’s three-tiered display, and the store sells 12 cases a week when the oranges are on sale for $1.49 per pound, compared to eight cases a week at the regular price of $1.99 per pound.

Blood oranges are lower in acidity than navel oranges, which makes them a hit with chefs. They are ideal for salads, juicing or eating out of hand.

Robert Schueller, assistant marketing director at Melissa’s/World Variety Produce Inc., Los Angeles, suggests that retailers use sampling, cooking displays and recipe cards to increase consumer knowledge and sales of the citrus.

CLEMENTINES
CARE: Store at 45-48 degrees. Shelf life is two to three weeks.
NUTRITIONAL VALUE: Clementines are high in vitamin C and dietary fiber, with a low calorie count of 50 calories per fruit.
AVAILABILITY: November through February

Legend has it that the clementine was first produced when Father Clement Rodier accidentally planted a hybrid between an orange and a mandarin tangerine in his northern African garden around 1900. Others disagree and link the citrus to 20th-century China.

The bright orange fruit is produced in Spain, California and Florida. Despite a questionable origin, one thing is certain about these sweet, easy to peel citrus gems: They will be a hot item during the holiday season.

Clementines are marketed in bulk and 3- or 5-pound gift boxes, making this fruit easy for consumers to grab on impulse as they browse through the produce section.

George Trikas, produce manager of the single Ellington Supermarket in Ellington, Conn., suggests displaying clementines at the front of the produce department in a large display to grab consumers’ attention. Trikas creates displays of more than 100 stacked boxes when the fruit is on sale to make it impossible for his customers to pass by without noticing.

Make clementines easy to spot in your produce section so repeat customers can pick up a box and so that new customers will be attracted to the display.

When the price is right, sales double for Mike Pippo, produce manager at the Bronxville, N.Y.-based DeCicco’s, a five-store chain. The chain’s New City, N.Y., store moves 200-300 boxes per weekend when clementines are on sale for $5.99 a box. DeCicco’s sells them regularly at $8.99 a box.

Clementines historically have been featured in holiday celebrations, and people wait for them to appear on the shelves, Pippo says.

Educate customers that clean-smelling and medium-firm clementines taste the best.