Texas citrus is a fall/winter favorite among many retailers and their customers. Vicki Hitchcock, produce manager at Carter’s Food Center in Vinita, Okla., was awaiting her first shipments of Texas grapefruit the third week of October.
Prior to that, the store offered Florida citrus, but customers like Texas grapefruit because of its deep, red color and sweet taste, Hitchcock said.
Carter’s is a small store, so Hitchcock displays grapefruit in black baskets in a refrigerated display case. When they’re on ad, she merchandises them on the produce department floor.
Regular price for Texas grapefruit is about 69 cents apiece, she said, but consumers can save a bundle when they’re on ad for 3 for $1.
Carter’s doesn’t sell Texas oranges because the store’s supplier sources oranges from Florida and California.
Bob Chennault, produce manager at B&B Foods, Leonard, Texas, receives shipments of Texas oranges and grapefruit three times a week when they’re in season.
He merchandises each in a 2- by 3-foot display and offers bulk, but not bagged product.
The store offers shoppers a choice of large and smaller, snack-size oranges. Consumers seem to prefer the small size, he said.
The store features grapefruit on ad about once every six weeks, but features oranges, especially the smaller sizes, about once a month.
Retailers tend to sell larger grapefruit by the pound and smaller sizes in multiples — such as 2 for $1, said Richard Walsh, marketing director for Healds Valley Farms Inc., Edinburg, Texas.
Bags are “huge” for Healds Valley Farms, he said.
The company offers four different bag weights for grapefruit and oranges and sells about 40% of its citrus in bags.
Carter’s Food Center offers grapefruit in 5-pound bags as well as bulk and features them on ad about four times or more during the season, Hitchcock says.
Most shoppers prefer loose grapefruit, but those who consume it regularly tend to buy it by the bag, she said.
When it’s featured in a newspaper or magazine article, or when a popular TV personality mentions grapefruit, she sees a spike in sales.
Carter’s customers tend to purchase grapefruit for its taste as well as its health benefits, Hitchcock added.
TexaSweet Citrus Marketing Inc., Mission, Texas, has a variety of point-of-purchase materials available to help retailers promote Texas citrus, said Eleisha Ensign, executive director.
The company’s website, www.texasweet.com, also includes safety, storage and handling tips.