Opportunity Awaits

Citrus Nursery Source: Opportunity Awaits

The key to the success of a citrus nursery: Sell what growers want to buy. Seemingly a simplistic business model, but as is true with many things, the devil is in the details — and the target is moving. The picture is a little more clear on processed varieties, but fresh varieties present a unique challenge. Space in nursery screenhouses is at a premium, and few nurseries will speculate on what growers might want. Nurseries wait for growers to request varieties and grow on contract. Growers don’t want to plant what packers and marketers aren’t requesting. What consumers are demanding today should have been anticipated and planted five years ago.

The simple answer is to get all parties on the same page. I know, I know, stop laughing. Since this is about as likely as a satisfied Gator football fan, let us consider the factors that affect variety demand by working our way up the decision tree.

The Ag Marketing Resource Center reported that, in order to affect demand of fresh produce, you need varieties that meet consumer needs and have new or novel characteristics. Following better varieties, demand can be affected by rising incomes (fresh costs more, and better fresh costs most), production expansion (so local supply can supplant import), population diversity (new tastes and preferences), recognition of lifestyle changes (need for convenience), and increased consumer awareness of the health benefits of consuming fresh fruit.

Comparing Apples To Oranges

No commodity group has been more successful at increasing demand for new varieties than the apple industry. Success factors for apple included: development and commercialization of better varieties (that drive demand, not just consumption); meeting the needs of traditional buyers while attracting new consumers; expansion of season (better storage); new flavors; and differing appearance.
 
Retailers are very clear about their perception of consumer needs when it comes to fresh citrus. Retailers want seedless, easy peel, good shelflife, good external color, year-round supply, sufficient flavor (to drive repeat purchases), and innovative packaging (to drive impulse). Clearly, packaging is outside the control of nurseries, but be aware of what retailers are looking for. Retailers impact packers. Packers influence growers.
 
A 2011 study published in the International Food and Agribusiness Review (conducted cooperatively by FDOC, UF/IFAS, and USDA-ARS) addressed consumer preferences in fresh citrus. According to this report, consumers (in order of importance) care about freshness, appearance, flavor, juiciness, size, price, peelability, and seed count.
 
Drive To Survive
So, we have an idea what the retail trade is looking for. We also have insight into what drives consumer purchases. The result of ignoring this information is clear. Twenty years ago, Florida had roughly 53,000 acres of fresh specialty fruit. Ten years ago, this dropped to approximately 27,000. Today, this number is 13,000 to 14,000 acres. Though freezes and disease pressure factor into the equation, changing demand factors have clearly had an impact. (This logic can be applied beyond specialty fruit).
 
Citrus is a perennial crop, and can’t turn on a dime like some berry or vegetable industries. Propagations take 10 to 12 months and trees require four to five years to produce a crop. Critical mass is necessary to establish retail demand. Nobody has the magic formula to solve this dilemma. However, in light of what we do know, consider this road map:
– Understand what consumers are looking for. Marketers and growers will select varieties that help meet this demand.
– Understand what retailers want or will accept. This may differ from consumers, but is no less significant.
– Work with your growers to make decisions based on anticipated demand. In the fresh arena, growers don’t want to be ordering trees when others already have reached critical mass and whose fruit is in the marketplace.
– Nurseries that want to be successful with fresh varieties must engage early and commit resources. There is risk here as not all varieties will make it commercially. Differentiate.
– Nurseries and packers/marketers are becoming more involved with their growers’ production practices. As advanced production systems are adopted in the field to accelerate cropping and minimize lag time to critical mass, rootstock variations and potting systems (for better development) at the nursery should be part of the overall system.
– As critical mass of new varieties grows near, the industry will support activities that increase trade and consumer awareness to drive demand and commitment of shelf space. Private marketing efforts will ultimately engage to sell these new varieties into the market with packaging innovations, merchandising, etc.
Early strategic involvement of citrus nurseries is critical to the success of the fresh and processed sectors. Times are changing. Get in gear.

Leave a Reply

Featured Stories
Ready To Spring
Insect Control
May 26, 2016
Temperature, Location Key To Predicting Leaffooted Bug Pressure
This year, leaffooted bugs are expected to be a significant problem in almonds and pistachios, but watching temperature and the Read More
First-year impact of Prunus replant disease at the Firebaugh replant trial; stunted trees in the foreground row were planted in plot of non-fumigated replant soil. (Photo credit: University of California Agriculture)
Fruits
May 26, 2016
Consider Fumigating For Nematodes Before Replanting Almonds, Stone Fruit
Stone fruit and almond growers looking to replant orchards might want to invest in soil samples to assess nematode populations Read More
An open air farm dinner at Tangletown's farm FEATURE
Farm Marketing
May 26, 2016
Farm Dinners: Your Most Powerful Marketing Tool?
Farm dinners are a hassle. They’re expensive. And ridiculously effective. Read More
Whiteflies on a leaf
Cucurbits
May 25, 2016
Whitefly Threat Has Florida Growers On High Alert
Researchers, state agencies working together to prevent a potential outbreak. Read More
The MyIPM series of apps are available for Android and IOS devices. (Photo Credit: Scott Miller / Clemson University)
Crop Protection
May 25, 2016
More Apps Help Growers Identify Insects And Diseases
Berries, apples, pears, and cherries now rolled into new app series from Clemson University. Read More
close-up of stop light
Citrus
May 25, 2016
Monsanto Says Bayer Bid ‘Financially Inadequate’
Proposal cited as undervalued, not able to address financial, regulatory risks. Read More
cherry cracking
Stone Fruit
May 25, 2016
Researchers Study Why Cherry Cracking Affects Different Varieties
German researchers studied how water uptake and fruit skin determined a cultivar’s susceptibility to cherry cracking. Read More
Port Of Miami shipyard
Farm Management
May 25, 2016
Report Highlights Benefits Of Trans-Pacific Partnership
National Potato Council says report from the International Trade Commission offers the benefits the free trade agreement would offer growers. Read More
Wetland and streamside vegetation serves as a buffer to filter excess nutrients from water running off agricultural land. Photo by Scott Bauer.
Fruits
May 25, 2016
Farm Bureau Says EPA, Army Corps Of Engineers Violate Clean Water Act
AFBF told Congress that the Army Corps' novel interpretations of environmental law are threatening farmers in California and other areas of the country. Read More
The Latest
Insect Control
May 26, 2016
Temperature, Location Key To Predicting …
This year, leaffooted bugs are expected to be a significant problem in almonds and pistachios, but watching temperature and the Read More
Fruits
May 26, 2016
Consider Fumigating For Nematodes Before…
Stone fruit and almond growers looking to replant orchards might want to invest in soil samples to assess nematode populations Read More
Farm Marketing
May 26, 2016
Who Grows Organically — And Who Doesn…
We surveyed 816 fruit and vegetable growers and found that farm marketers and vegetable growers are much more likely than their peers to embrace the practice. Read More
Farm Marketing
May 26, 2016
Farm Dinners: Your Most Powerful Marketi…
Farm dinners are a hassle. They’re expensive. And ridiculously effective. Read More
Cucurbits
May 25, 2016
Whitefly Threat Has Florida Growers On H…
Researchers, state agencies working together to prevent a potential outbreak. Read More
Crop Protection
May 25, 2016
More Apps Help Growers Identify Insects …
Berries, apples, pears, and cherries now rolled into new app series from Clemson University. Read More
Citrus
May 25, 2016
Monsanto Says Bayer Bid ‘Financially Ina…
Proposal cited as undervalued, not able to address financial, regulatory risks. Read More
Stone Fruit
May 25, 2016
Researchers Study Why Cherry Cracking Af…
German researchers studied how water uptake and fruit skin determined a cultivar’s susceptibility to cherry cracking. Read More
Farm Management
May 25, 2016
Report Highlights Benefits Of Trans-Paci…
National Potato Council says report from the International Trade Commission offers the benefits the free trade agreement would offer growers. Read More
Fruits
May 25, 2016
Farm Bureau Says EPA, Army Corps Of Engi…
AFBF told Congress that the Army Corps' novel interpretations of environmental law are threatening farmers in California and other areas of the country. Read More
Citrus
May 25, 2016
NRCS Invests $4.3 Million To Combat Clim…
The Natural Resources Conservation Service in California is committing funds to help farmers and ranchers mitigate the effects of climate change and help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Read More
Citrus
May 24, 2016
Panama Canal Expansion To Bring Trade Op…
Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam says a confluence of events is putting the state's producers in a good spot to open new markets. Read More
Citrus
May 24, 2016
Social Media Posts On GMOs Falling Flat …
Hopefully, the hysteria the West has perpetuated on genetic engineering will not stifle the potential of moving our production forward enough to help feed a growing global population. Read More
Fruits
May 24, 2016
Organic Food Sales Hit Record $43.3 Bill…
Organic Trade Association says organic fruits and vegetables logged sales of $14.4 billion. Read More
Grapes
May 24, 2016
Sea Change Coming To California Winegrap…
Vines continue to be pulled from the state’s interior, while planting is expected to increase along coast and in Delta area. Read More
Citrus
May 24, 2016
Report Says GMOs Offer No Risk To Human …
The study stresses the need for proper resistance management, the need for a different ways to evaluate all new crop varieties, regardless of process in which they were developed. Read More
Citrus
May 24, 2016
Full-Time Effort Required To Feed Farm-T…
Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam gives a shout-out to those providing fuel to kids during the school year as well as the summer months. Read More
Citrus
May 23, 2016
World Health Organization Experts: Glyph…
Risk unlikely when consuming crops treated with herbicide. Read More
[gravityform id="62" title="false" description="false"]