New England, and the Northeast in general, have been a growing market for Texas shippers for several years.

Exports also are gaining ground, shippers said.

“As other states continue to have problems, and their production goes down, our business should continue to increase in other countries,” said Richard Walsh, marketing director for Edinburg, Texas-based Healds Valley Farms Inc.

Texas citrus isn’t a hard sell in many cases, he said.

“Once they see and taste our fruit, and once we prove that we can take care of their demand, our business should continue to increase,” he said.

Trent Bishop, sales manager for Mission, Texas-based Lone Star Citrus Growers LLC, said he sees the most potential in the far Northeast and eastern Canada.

“We have to do a good job breaking into these new markets,” he said.

A good way to do that is with a mix of bagged and bulk product.

“We think there is so much potential in the use of our bagged fruit along with bulk, for several reasons,” said Paula Fouchek, marketing director for the Edinburg Citrus Association, Edinburg.

For one thing, it gives consumers a choice and it appeals to different demographics. Areas with larger families tend to have strong bagged product sales.

“Plus, it can increase overall sales,” Fouchek said. “Bagged fruit not only presents a value, but at the same time it can be useful during the holidays, like Christmas, when consumers are looking to build their own fruit baskets and will need more fruit on hand.

Fouchek said shippers are optimistic about this year, thanks to continued strong demand.

“We are always extremely optimistic and excited at the beginning of every season,” she said. “We saw increased sales during a difficult economy last year, which we are very thankful for, and we hope to see it again this season.”