(Oct. 14) Shower the colors of sunshine on your produce department with abundant selections of orange and yellow citrus. With many parts of the country under overcast skies, a vibrant display can bring extra attention and sales potential. Highlight the refreshing flavors the category offers. Cut open the product to show off its color and offer your customers a taste as holiday planning and entertaining gain momentum.

GRAPEFRUIT

In the past five years, grapefruit marketers have promoted the healthful aspects of eating grapefruit. This year, grapefruit marketers plan to focus on taste to increase grapefruit consumption, says Bruce McEvoy, chief executive officer of Seald Sweet Growers, Vero Beach, Fla. “It’s extra important for us to revitalize grapefruit sales. Inconsistent taste is the problem,” McEvoy says. “Promoting health doesn’t change behavior. Taste will.”

McEvoy adds that “Younger people are disappointed with the flavor.”

The Florida Department of Citrus, Lakeland, advocates sampling to sell more citrus. Grapefruit sampling will run January through March. Orange and tangerine sampling programs are beginning now. “We’re in the process of finalizing plans to do a major sampling effort for oranges, grapefruit and tangerines,” says Nancy Pewonski, marketing manager for fresh fruit. “We’re trying to determine exactly how consumers feel about grapefruit and what their taste preferences are and we’re hoping with the sampling initiative that retailers will have a promotional tie-in to bring consumers into the stores.” Merchandising kits will accompany each sampling activity.

Using high-graphic bins can increase your grapefruit sales 15 percent to 40 percent, says Melinda Goodman, executive director of TexaSweet Citrus Marketing, Mission, Texas. She also suggests using the term “red” instead of “pink” to appeal to younger consumers who may not realize that today’s grapefruit is different from the past. “Red actually has, in some consumers’ minds, a better appeal,” she says.

In addition to focusing on flavor and color, continue to offer grapefruit every week to capture sales from loyal grapefruit lovers.

Barry Stout, produce manager at Amelia’s Market, Crown Point, Ind., sells two cases of bulk 23- to 27-count size grapefruit and five cases of 5-pound bags weekly at the store, one of four owned by GA Foods Group, Lowell, Ind. Grapefruit sells regularly for 69 to 99 cents each and the bags sell for $2.99 to $3.99 each, he says. Stout typically sells about 20 percent more when they are promoted.

Stout stocks mainly red grapefruit varieties and tends to offer only the larger size in the bulk displays. “If they want a smaller size, they can buy the bag,” he says. He has offered 8- and 10-pound bags of grapefruit, but says customers don’t buy them unless they’re on sale.

Still, bags may help grapefruit appeal to more customers. “By including bags with your bulk offering, you enhance the value proposition and appeal to a broader market,” Goodman says. Offering bags can increase your sales up to 30 percent, she adds.

At single-store Festival Foods, Kansas City, Mo., produce manager Shawn Evans displays all citrus on a 60-foot fruit rack. He adds rows of apples to separate the various items, “so you don’t have a sea of orange.” The color breaks also help to avoid confusion with prices. He offers two grapefruit sizes: 48- and 32-count. “Older people like the larger size for breakfast,” he says.

ORANGES

Large vibrant displays of oranges are key, says Robert Verloop, vice president marketing and sales promotions for Sunkist Growers, Sherman Oaks, Calif. “We encourage retailers to build one big colorful display of citrus,” he says. The company plans to offer new point-of-purchase materials, including bin wraps and recipes, every month. “Consumers are always looking for new usage ideas. With new ideas, they are, of course, inclined to purchase more,” he says.

Verloop thinks the flavor aspects of citrus need to be merchandised better. “We need to look at the unique taste qualities that citrus can add to dishes. For example, using citrus as a flavor-enhancer to meals,” he says.

Customers at Amelia’s Market buy 10 to 20 cases of bulk 56-count navel oranges each week. Shoppers purchase 15 cases of 4-pound bags and four cases of 8-pound bags each week, Stout says. He displays all citrus at the front of the produce department around an artificial orange tree. Clerks arrange loose oranges around the base along with orange-related grocery items. On sale, bulk oranges sell 3 for $1, Four-pound bags are priced 2 for $3 or $1.99 each. Eight-pound bags on sale are priced $2.99 to $3.49 each. Those prices generate a 30 percent to 40 percent sales increase.

During the fall, Festival Foods’ Evans sells four cases of navel oranges during a typical week, he says. He carries two sizes: 56- and 118-count. “Parents sometimes pick up the smaller size for kids’ lunches,” he says. “The large is more of an adult size.” He prices the larger size two for $1 or 58 cents each and prices the 118s at three for $1.

Four-pound bags of oranges regularly sell for $3.38 each at Festival Foods. In the height of the winter season, Evans sells 10-pound bags of oranges for $2.98 on ad. “That was basically at cost,” he says. During that promotion, shoppers purchased 1,600 bags in a week.

Don’t forget to promote oranges in colorful holiday gifts. “Oranges sell like crazy, especially for fruit baskets,” says Bobby Maner, produce manager at the single Elgin IGA, Elgin, S.C.

LEMONS AND LIMES

Fresh lemon juice and zest can deliciously define a special holiday dish. Many of your customers know how often fresh lemons and juice are called for in recipes found in cooking magazines. Cross-merchandise juicers and zesters to get your customers cooking with lemons.

Lemons outsell limes three to one at Festival Foods, Evans says. He sells four to five cases of lemons a week when they’re on sale four for $1. He has tried 2-pound bags of lemons in the past but stopped carrying them because he had to discard too many.

Verloop suggests using bags of lemons in displays elsewhere in the store. “Secondary lemon displays are important in seafood, salad dressings, your water aisle and the soft drink aisle. That’s where bagged lemons can fit in,” he says. “People need to be reminded that lemons are for more than lemonade or for adding sliced to water.”

“Lemons and limes sell well around the holidays or special events… whenever they’re used in drinks,” Amelia’s Stout says. He offers only bulk lemons which are priced on sale for three for $1, down from a regular price of 59 cents each. he says. Shoppers regularly buy three cases of 75-count lemons each week. When lemons are promoted, shoppers purchase five times that amount.

Stout cross-merchandises Frito-Lay Tostitos Hint of Lime Tortilla Chips and margarita mixes with 150-count limes. He sells limes regularly at three for $1. On sale, they’re priced five for $1. During a typical week, he sells two cases per week.

At Festival Foods, shoppers can go on a lime spree with special New Year’s Eve prices of 12 for $1. Regularly, they run six or eight for $1, Evans says.

“We sell a lot of limes especially on the weekends with beer sales and weekend parties,” Elgin IGA’s Maner says. Eighty percent of his lime sales occur over the weekends.