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Limoneira predicts favorable summer season

For more than a century, Limoneira had used a variety of marketers to sell its citrus crops. As the calendar turned to the millennium, the Santa Paula, CA-based company began marketing its own lemon production and about three years ago, it successful started the other citrus varieties it grows.

With 3,500 acres of lemons throughout California, Limoneira is one of the largest lemon producers in North America, and the company maintains an orchard of more than 300 citrus varieties to satisfy consumer tastes and to help keep Limoneira at the cutting edge of new citrus products. 

Among its other offerings are navel and Valencia oranges, Cara Cara navels, Moro Blood oranges, Minneola tangelos and star ruby grapefruit.

Lemons-1 “We have always participated in summer citrus programs since our inception, however rather than lemons, grapefruit and Valencias from California, it is augmented by Southern Hemisphere lemons, navels and mandarins,” said John Chamberlain, Limoneira’s vice president of marketing. “We are a member of Summer Citrus from South Africa, however this season we are not focused on the U.S. market. As for our Chilean, and Argentine operations, we are offering a full array of lemons, oranges and mandarins.”

He explained the delayed California crops have pushed many of Limoneira’s summer plans into June and July rather than May/June. So as the citrus category and lemons, in particular, continue to rise with Mother Nature as a partner, it is always difficult to plan with 100 percent certainty. 

“The Southern Hemisphere, while starting late, has good sizing and flavor,” Chamberlain said. “Although compressed, we are predicting a favorable summer season.”

While labor, pests and water are among the top challenges the company faces, the biggest issue is the unusual weather, which creates strange harvests scenarios. That means harvest strategies are changing daily as well as fruit placement globally. 

One important lesson those at the company have learned and passed down over its more than 125-year history is to create a savvy plan early and stay abreast of what each market’s needs are.

“Multigenerational knowledge of crops and markets helps us plan,” Chamberlain said. “Understanding which fruit fits best with which market is an integral reason for our long-term success.”

The company pushes home the message that lemons are one of the healthiest items that can be consumed, and Limoneira’s new Take a Healthy Stand campaign showcases the many ways that lemons can play a role in helping to alleviate serious health issues. 

“There have been a number of research studies that support the role that lemons play in potentially alleviating heart disease and strokes, Alzheimer’s, Type 2 diabetes and even cancer,” said Alex Teague, Limoneira chief operating officer. “Basically, lemons are an important part of a Mediterranean Diet —a very healthy and delicious way of eating.”

Chamberlain feels grocery and food service nutritionists are key influencers for shoppers and can make a big difference in citrus sales at the retail level.

“Healthy habits don’t have to sacrifice great taste, and at Limoneira we can show you how to achieve better health,” he said. “ Megan Roosevelt, a registered dietician, has developed some great recipes that can deliver the health benefits in Take A Healthy Stand that are delicious.”