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Citrus SnackChat

The beauty of citrus is not only the category’s versatile flavors, abundant varieties, and beautiful aesthetic—but also its ability to be marketed and merchandised year-round for every occasion and every holiday. As we kick off the holiday push, we dig in with some of our industry friends and discover some of their citrus loves, insights, reflections on days past, and the current opportunities that make the segment one to promote and adore.

Paul Kneeland, Executive Director of Fresh Operations, Gelson's Markets“My favorite citrus of all time is Pixie Tangerines from Ojai, California!”

“They are sweet to eat and just the right size for snacking—though it’s hard to eat just one! They are a little funky to look at but, man, once you break the skin, the fragrant aroma just makes your mouth water. We make ginormous displays of them here at Gelson’s and our customers absolutely love them. Our chef has created a recipe for Pixie Tangerine Salad that we sell in our Kitchen Department, and it has a perfect balance of greens and just the right dressing to blend the textures and flavors. What a refreshing salad!”


Chris Keetch, Director of Produce and Floral, Giant Food Stores, LLC“If you’ve been in the produce industry long enough, you remember when the citrus category was much more seasonal and mandarins were primarily sold in cans.”

“Today, it’s a year-round category featuring a broad assortment from around the globe and plays a key role in our stores and, more importantly, to our customers. With the domestic season on the horizon, we get excited to showcase the array of varieties and colors as the displays expand to make room for everything from Cara Cara to blood oranges, Gold Nugget to stem and leaf mandarins, Ruby Red grapefruit to Pummelos...and everything in between!”


Jay Schneider, Produce Director, Acme Markets“Over the years, Citrus has evolved into a 52-week program, and summer is not just for stonefruit anymore!”

“Navels and clementines have continued in high customer demand through the summer and into fall and winter during this timeframe. Also, there is nothing quite like rolling out 48-count large Navels in high graphic bins to stores that shout, ‘Buy me!’ Cut a few in half and let customers see that deep-orange flesh and sample them to their delight.

Another big plus—variety, variety, variety! How much fun is it to spotlight all the different varieties of citrus that are offered now Sumo, what?! Golden Nugget, what?! Seedless lemons, anyone?! Blood orange, Pummelo, you name it—this list goes on and on. One of my favorite underrated pieces of citrus is a nice, deep, Ruby Red grapefruit—yes, grapefruit! You can market this item to success in the produce department, and with surprising results. The sky’s the limit, so merchandise and promote past those summer months—the category is available to drive sales the entire year long.”


Caitlin Tierney, Director of Produce and Floral, 99 Cents Only Stores

“California citrus season is one of my favorites! It’s a bright pop of color and taste to a dreary winter season.”

“At 99 Cents Only Stores, we have found that branded products with high-resolution graphics and clear descriptions really help make the product stand out on display. Last year, we started a program with Sunkist that was very successful for our stores. We had POS bin displays that educated customers and created secondary displays promoting easy peels and lemons. I believe there is still a huge opportunity in Minneolas, Cara Caras, and blood oranges, we just need to continue to educate the customers on how these great eating pieces of fruit stand out amongst the rest.”


Ryan Peterson, Produce Buyer, Jimbo's

“Our Jimbo’s stores located in San Diego County, California, are in the heart of citrus and avocado country.”

“Each of our stores offers a year-round local and organic citrus program buying directly from San Diego farmers who deliver directly to our stores. Most of our citrus is picked to order, providing us with the freshest and best-tasting fruit you can get. Our customers look forward to farm-specific offerings and unique varieties such as Cara Cara navels, Kishu mandarins, Gold Nugget tangerines, and blood oranges. Our newest location now features a fresh-squeezed orange juice machine that features local and organic oranges grown just 36 miles from the store!”


James Saldutti, Director of Produce, Earth Fare

“Winter months are not my favorite. Cold mornings and early sunsets mean less time outside and on my Motorcycle. What brightens my winter is California’s citrus season.”

“California’s citrus offerings are not only a favorite in my home but a delight to our Earth Fare customers. Bountiful displays of Navel oranges, blood oranges, Tangelos, Cara Cara’s, and lemons brighten our stores and bring health to our guests. In collaboration with key partners, we will get behind sales contests and demos to excite team members and drive sales! An Earth Fare favorite is the Sumo mandarin, a delicious, juicy, and easy-to-peel piece of fruit that our customers start asking for in June! Now, as I sit here writing, I find myself looking forward to January!”


Michael Schutt, Senior Category Manager of Produce and Floral, Raley's Family of FIne Stores

“Fall is here! And with that comes the flavors of the season.For Raley’s, that generally starts with local Mandarins produced just up the road in the Sierra Foothills and continues with the relationships we’ve forged with local farmers over the last three decades like Tom Aguilar at Mandarin Hill Farms.”

“But the season moves quickly into category mainstays such as Navel oranges along with a variety of other oranges such as Moro blood and Cara Cara Pink, not to mention a plethora of mandarin varieties—I think you’d have to be living like Tom Hanks in Cast Away to have not tried a Cuties®.

There are also some unique items that have created some new fun and excitement in the category in recent years like Finger Limes or Sumo Citrus®. All of these items allow us at Raley’s to build creative and interesting displays throughout the season that incorporate colors and textures to support not just out-of-hand snacking but endless culinary and mixology applications. A robust citrus program leads to both healthier customers and a healthier bottom line.”


Chris Miller, Regional Coordinator of Produce, Meat, Bulk, Seafood, and Cheese, Mom's Organic Market“Citrus time marks an exciting change in the yearly calendar of produce. For me, it means cooler weather here in the mid-Atlantic and the long-awaited range of flavors that come with the wide offering of organic citrus varieties!”

“The vibrant palette of golden yellow meyer lemons through light orange tangerines into deep orange Navels and all the way to the beautiful blushed skin of blood oranges make for an exciting and eye-popping display this time of year. While I am a lover of all things summer fruit, the hardiness of citrus offers an auspicious reprieve from the challenges of managing hyper-perishable stonefruit and tomato varieties at the store level.”


Nicole Hulstein, Produce Buyer, Food Lion“Citrus continues to gain in popularity for consumers but, like most fresh items, purchases can become deterred with a sub-par eating experience. Taste matters!”

“For my customers, quality and price are drivers of purchase habits. I have also found value in a disruption of the shop; whether that may be a greater merchandising element or a quick grab from an off-shelf merchandising unit outside of the produce department. My personal favorite uses of citrus are mandarins for a quick afternoon pick-me-up and fresh lemon in my water, a daily habit that I don’t foresee going away anytime soon!”