News that Sunkist — long one of the best-known consumer brands in fresh produce — plans to market table grapes under the Sunkist banner shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Although Sunkist has been an iconic name in oranges and other citrus products for nearly 120 years, branching out to leverage an established brand name beyond a commodity it is nearly synonymous with is hardly unprecedented.

Avocado powerhouse Calavo acquired Maui Fresh in 2002 and incorporated its tropical fruits under the Calavo brand name.

The Del Monte name has graced a wide spectrum of offerings, while Dole long ago grew beyond its banana supplier roots and embraced a broad lineup of products.

Another name traditionally tied to bananas — Chiquita — has placed its label on pineapples, apples and other fresh convenience products.

Looking beyond the produce department, Chiquita recently announced plans to lend its brand equity (and that of its Fresh Express line) to oatmeal, salad toppers, housewares and even clothing.

Green Giant found a home in fresh produce after being long-established in canned and frozen products.

Brands such as Sunkist have spent a lot of time and money to nurture consumer trust in the value of their products.

An established brand expanding to a new product line is no guarantee of success, as Sunkist learned a few years back with its foray into berries.

But in these recessionary economic times, when a broader stock market portfolio seems like a smart idea and one that trims risk, fresh produce companies offering a more diversified portfolio of product offerings makes good sense too.

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