It’s peak season for California grown Sumo Citrus®. The oversized easy peeler started shipping at the end of December and fruit availability is expected through April. It was a wet start to the season and while the rain is welcome and necessary to continue farming in California, it can lead to hurdles in harvest planning.
“To be able to harvest, the rind needs to be dry. Otherwise, there is a risk of future breakdown of the fruit,” says Ron Steele, Vice President of Sales at AC Foods. As a result, harvest is not possible during the rain and the team closely monitors to determine when and where harvest is possible in between storms. “No matter the weather conditions, our strict standard for flavor and quality remain the same. Fruit is tested before and after harvest to ensure all Sumo Citrus meets the sweet flavor consumers love,” added Steele.
Despite the wet start, Sumo Citrus is expected to increase in volume and distribution compared to the 2022 season. Consumers will be able to find Sumo Citrus in more stores than ever before and in North America, distribution is expanded from the US into Canada. At first, Sumo Citrus was only available to purchase as individual pieces, but last year, a 2 lb. bag was introduced. “Our 2 lb. bag will be available at even more locations this season and we are excited to offer another way for consumers to stock up on the fruit.”
Whether it is the look, the extremely sweet taste or both, Sumo CitruseDITOR has developed a group of “super fans” in recent years. Social media like Facebook and Instagram have helped in gaining awareness and this year, Sumo Citrus will be visible on Tik Tok after going viral on the platform last year. “We want to have the opportunity to meet our shoppers and show them what the Sumo Citrus hype is about,” said Emma Koehler, Assistant Brand Manager at AC Foods. Additionally, digital media continues to be a great avenue to grow awareness for the brand online and inspire in-store purchase.
What drives volume growth is the collaboration with retail partners to create custom shopper marketing programs. “Coupons continue to be a great way to incentivize trial and after two seasons of limited demo opportunities, we are excited to activate demos in store at a larger scale.” In addition, the big and beautiful in-store displays are real showstoppers every year. With the bright purple branding and some team members dressed in Sumo Citrus costumers, it is great to see the creativity from retailers who activate display contests.
Sumo Citrus may have a short season, the presence will extend beyond the produce aisle this year. “In San Francisco, Sacramento, and Phoenix, Sumo Citrus is popping up around town from billboards and transit to feet on the street sampling teams.
Sumo Citrus also has fans outside the United States. Dan Kass, VP of Import & Export Sales tells, “While global shipping has proved challenging in aggressively developing overseas markets in the past few years, AC Foods has been able to grow shipments. The last few seasons, the main countries for Sumo Citrus’ export program were the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and South America.
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