Sunkist Growers is one business that is least susceptible to an outbreak of scurvy among its employees. America's oldest continually operating citrus cooperative, the company is owned by California and Arizona citrus growers who farm some 300,000 acres of citrus trees. Sunkist offers traditional and organic fresh oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit, and tangerines worldwide. The co-op, which operates some 20 packing facilities, also makes juice and cut fruit packaged in jars. Fruit that doesn't meet fresh market standards is turned into oils and peels for use in food products made by other manufacturers. Sunkist's customers include food retailers and manufacturers and foodservice providers worldwide.
The cooperative's seasonal citrus includes Meyer lemons, mandarin oranges, Clementine oranges, blood oranges, and tangelos. Sunkist is one of the most recognized brand names in the world.
Through some 40 licensing agreements, the Sunkist name appears on more than 600 beverages and other products -- from vitamins to candy to soda to pistachios. It offers Sunkist Fruit Gems (gummie candies), made for the company by the Jelly Belly Candy Company.
The company has been focused on market and portfolio expansion and getting the most from its citrus juice and oils and for-profit businesses. It is working to extend its reach to new markets, such as India, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe, where its core product has not historically been traded. To reach beyond citrus and expand its products portfolio, Sunkist is concentrating on table grapes. Through a pilot program with its existing citrus growers, the company markets Sunkist-branded California table grapes grown by them.
It also worked in recent years to improve the productivity of its Tipton juice processing plant. To this end, Sunkist in 2012 entered a 50:50 joint venture agreement with fellow juice processor Ventura Coastal. Under the name Ventura Coastal LLC, the entity operates the Ventura Coastal plant in Visalia and the Sunkist plant in Tipton.
The 2011-2012 growing season got off to a late start, thanks to slow maturing fruit. Its navel orange crop grew to a manageable 88 million cartons as compared to a challenging 93-million-carton crop the previous year. Lemons started slowly, as well, but both demand and price picked up. Protected groves fared well during the year while unprotected ones -- those outside the traditional growing areas -- did not. More susceptible to the cold, mandarins crops have suffered.
Sales and Marketing
Sunkist, which has operated a centralized sales organization since 2009, sells its products primarily to food retailers and manufacturers, as well as to foodservice providers worldwide. The company is the largest marketing cooperative in the global fruit and vegetable industry.
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