California, where a majority of Los Angeles-based Wonderful Citrus’s fruit is grown, has experienced an extremely dry summer, with a series of record-breaking heat waves, said Zak Laffite, the company’s president.
Lack of water and resources will have an impact on fruit size and overall yield across all varieties, Laffite said. That said Wonderful is confident that it’s well positioned to adapt to these harsh conditions, he added, given its innovative farming practices and expertise and the specific locations where its ranches are located.
Wonderful began shipping its Wonderful Halos in November and expects to ship through May. Wonderful Seedless Lemon shipments also kicked off in November and are expected to run into June. Wonderful will also ship California navels, car acaras and minneolas and Texas oranges, grapefruit and limes during the domestic season.
Wonderful keeps a close eye on consumer demands and needs and is constantly looking for new varieties that will delight consumers while, at the same time, fill availability gaps and extend seasons, Laffite said.
Recently, the company has been particularly excited about the expansion of Wonderful Seedless Lemons, with new plantings in various growing regions that will increase volumes and availability. Wonderful began shipping the fruit in 2019.
Over the past five years, Laffite said, Wonderful’s lemon growth has been second only to the growth in its mandarin program. The naturally seedless, non-GMO Project verified variety has been a “game changer,” Laffite said.
“We’ve been able to move the category forward, while creating opportunities for growth by pushing innovation. We’re increasing distribution each year as newly planted trees begin producing fruit in our California groves.”
Consumers are cooking more at home and using lemons for a variety of occasions, he added.
Wonderful Seedless Lemons are still a fairly new product, and Wonderful is working hard to raise awareness of them, Laffite said.
Volumes of the variety are still limited, so the company has had to focus in marketing efforts on select markets and channels. New for this season are secondary display bins, which are perfect for multiple locations throughout any store format, Laffite said.
“They have a small footprint and feature beautiful recipes and cocktails to inspire new usage occasions and demonstrate how Wonderful Seedless Lemons can enhance any dish or beverage,” Laffite said.