(Jan. 14) SHERMAN OAKS, Calif. — With an unusually large navel crop this year, Sunkist Growers Inc. is targeting health-conscious consumers, professional chefs, people who enjoy cooking and school foodservice with a variety of promotions.

The idea is to make it easier for retailers and foodservice outlets to move more product by helping people realize that citrus is a great snack food, a fantastic source of vitamin C in the flu and cold season and a simple and tantalizing addition to salads, beverages and other entrees.

For the first two months of the year, Sunkist aims to help consumers follow through on New Year’s resolutions to get healthier with its “Cruise to a New You” promotion. Tying in with Cooking Light magazine, Sunkist is giving consumers a chance to win a trip on Cooking Light’s Ship Shape Cruise to the Caribbean on Norwegian Cruise Lines in November.

The citrus cooperative is backing the retail promotion with point-of-purchase materials, in-bag booklets and online sweepstakes registration.

“The idea is that citrus helps you revitalize,” said Andrea Ridl, Sunkist’s retail trade development manager. “You peel an orange and the juice squirts out. You eat it, and the flavor is amazing. At this time of year, people are back on track toward healthier lifestyles, and the object is to help consumers eat healthier with citrus.”

In-store promotional materials include posters as well as point-of-purchase displays that hold booklets. The booklets fold out to offer a 5 a Day recipe, a panel about the 5 a Day the Color Way program, a Cooking Light recipe and subscription offer, a blurb on how to enter the sweepstakes and $1.40 in Sunkist coupons.

The booklet can go into POP displays for bulk product, and it is available inside 4-pound bags of oranges and 2-pound bags of lemons.

Consumers can enter the sweepstakes either at www.sunkist.com or www.cookinglight.com.

STOP, SMILE

In March and April, Sunkist will team up with Family Circle magazine to launch another retail promotion called “Show Us Your Sunkist Smile.” The idea comes from the practice many people enjoyed as children (or even adults) of slipping an orange wedge into their mouth and then smiling to show the orange peel.

In the promotion, consumers will send in photos of themselves with orange smiles, and Sunkist will pick five winners who will have a chance to win money as well as get their picture on a nationally distributed 4-pound package of oranges.

Sunkist will back the promotion with POP materials and a coupon book with more citrus recipes, coupons, explanations on how to enter the contest and a subscription offer for Family Circle.

Robert Verloop, vice president of marketing, said he hopes to arrange for some photographs to be taken at retail outlets for fun promotional opportunities as well.

The winner will be picked in May, and the packaging with the winner’s face will appear in August and September, the peak of the valencia season and back-to-school time.

This too will have an online component, as consumers will be able to send in digital photos.

MORE HELP

Retailers are getting promotional help in a couple of other ways from Sunkist as well this year. Sunkist has begun offering a recipe of the month POP program that allows consumers to tear off a new, simple citrus recipe from displays each month.

And Sunkist is offering mobile, wooden display units that allow stores to cross-merchandise citrus in other areas of the store. The units, about the size of a water cooler, have two shelves for citrus and a space for recipes. They were first used last summer in a promotion with Gallo wines.

Sunkist isn’t limiting its promotions to the retail store or the World Wide Web this year, though.

It has launched a consumer ad campaign in magazines such as Family Circle, Cooking Light, Parents, Southern Living, Fitness, Self and Bon Appetit.

The four-color, full-page ads, emblazoned with the words “Sunkist. Better snacking,” encourage consumers to substitute citrus for cookies, candy and chips, said Kellie DuBois, manager of foodservice and consumer programs.

Verloop said Sunkist has developed a comprehensive promotions program this year that it will unveil in stages as the year goes on.

“The navel season has started strong,” he said. “It has good flavor. Sugar content is higher early on than usual. It’s good eating fruit. We’re stepping up our promotions to put as many tools as possible in the hands of our customers.”