As winter citrus packers have moved away from bulk fruit to bags, packers and shippers of summer citrus have followed similar trends.

The vast majority of shipments of Australian citrus still come in loose-fill cartons, said Andrew Harty, market development manager, and Nathan Hancock, manager of market information and quality, both of Citrus Australia Ltd., Queensland. But importers increasingly are repacking the fruit into bags post-arrival.

Summer citrus sales are in the bag“With marketing of the Australian citrus crop into the U.S. now deregulated, exporters and importers are exploring many new niche opportunities that were not previously covered,” they said in an e-mail.

Kathy Hearl, marketing promotions manager for DNE World Fruit Sales LLC, Fort Pierce, Fla., said company officials have seen packaging for summer citrus change over the years.

Only a few years ago, clementines were sold in 5-pound boxes. Now, they’re almost exclusively packed in 2-, 3- and 5-pound bags, she said.

Navel bags also have increased in numbers compared to bulk loose navel displays in the produce section, Hearl said.

Joan Wickham, advertising and public relations manager for Sherman Oaks-based Sunkist Growers, says packaging designs are being driven in part by consumers’ desire for more information.

Not only do they want the basic nutritional facts, but they also want use ideas and recipes. Sunkist is responding with packaging that mixes eye-catching graphics with convenience and product information.

“Pouch and giro bags, for example, are becoming increasingly popular because they meet all of these criteria,” Wickham said. “Sunkist offers a wide variety of attractive pouch and giro bags that showcase our premium-quality fruit while providing consumers with the convenience and educational messaging that they are looking for at the supermarket.”

Seald Sweet International also has experienced a change in retail and consumer packaging desires, said Kim Flores, director of marketing.

“We will have ideal volumes for promoting bagged oranges this season, for which we have seen a growing demand over the years in this category versus bulk product,” she said.

The Vero Beach, Fla.-based grower-packer also has a couple of new packaging projects in the works that will market summer citrus to kids. In addition, it plans to promote late-season mandarins with a new line of high-graphic packaging that highlights the fruit’s exceptionally sweet flavor, Flores said.

DNE plans to introduce high-graphic packaging for South African navels, Midknight valencias and Chilean navels this season, Hearl said.