Receiving promotable volumes of citrus from South Africa this late spring and summer doesn’t appear to be much of an issue.
Now, grower-shipper-packers, wholesalers and retailers are just looking for ways to get the product out and into the ever more watchful and discretionary eyes of consumers. They’re finding ways both in-store and out.
“We’re looking at sponsoring youth league soccer teams in the national championships,” said Piet Smit, managing director of the Western Cape Citrus Producers’ Forum, Citrusdal, South Africa. Smit said promotional ideas for the soccer teams ranged from signage on team uniforms, to tasting demos at the youth national championships, to supplying teams with nutritional postgame snacks.
“As a trial, we did that on a regional basis last year, and it seemed to work out well for us,” Smit said. “Oranges and clementines are an ideal snack for youth during summertime. It’s easy and healthy.”
Mayda Sotomayor, chief executive officer for Seald Sweet International, Vero Beach, Fla., said some grower forums in southern Florida are also promoting through soccer and youth sports.
But the majority of promotion remains traditional, and with South African citrus, the aim appears to be getting product as high a visibility on store shelves as possible.
“We’ve found that in-store sampling has been successful … reminding consumers that summer citrus is something they should try,” said Marc Solomon, president of Fisher Capespan, Philadelphia. “The challenge we’ve always found is getting shelf space, but we’ve found that, by packaging loose, in bags, you might get shelf space and increase visibility and build sales.”
Sotomayor said she’s a big believer in in-store demos — getting samples of the fruit out in stores for taste-testing.
“Customers might not be aware that South African citrus has great taste,” Sotomayor said. “We promote educating the consumer. That’s going to be our main focus.”
Other sources said they leave it up to their retail customers as to how to promote their produce.
“Each retailer has specific things they like us to do,” said Matt Gordon, Chilean program manager for DNE World Fruit Sales, Fort Pierce, Fla. “It just goes on a retailer-by-retailer basis.”
From the exporter’s side, promotions can take on a much broader, international scale.
“We do brand advertising by brand owners,” said Justin Chadwick, chief executive officer of South Africa’s Citrus Growers Association, Hillcrest. “We do trade shows — Fruit Logistica (in Berlin) and Asia Fruit Logistica. Growers supplying to the U.S. have their own promotion campaigns. We’ve been speaking with Peru, Australia and Chile about collaboration in increasing demand for summer citrus in the U.S.”
“We have nine importers in the U.S. we’re looking at doing promotional activities with on a national and regional basis,” Smit said.
Among those, he said, are such giants as Wal-Mart, Costco and Kroger.
“Every year is a learning curve for us,” Smit said. “South Africa has established itself as a supplier we can be proud of. What we promise, we can deliver. The buying power of the consumer is a concern to us in this economy. We don’t know what the effect will be. But citrus is one of the best values for the money.”