Stop me if you’ve heard this one: Put a slice of citrus on top of your drink, and it will taste ... sublime!

Now that we’ve got that collective groaner out of the way, let’s peel down to some real citrus fruit basics. While the category can be easily overlooked and occasionally under merchandised, citrus is vital in the produce aisle. Especially considering citrus is colorful, consumer-friendly, refreshing, flavorful, nutritious and best of all — citrus is a great way to increase sales and profits.

Here’s are a few thoughts on the subject.


Citrus seasonality is welcome

Similar to commodities such as stone fruit or cherries, winter citrus availability is a welcome sight for hungry consumers. Florida and Texas grapefruit are perennial favorites, as are the pebbly-skinned navel oranges, easy-peel mandarins, brilliant-colored lemons and limes, and countless other citrus varieties. The category is well-received not only by consumers, but by produce departments, eager to build sales after the usual October sales lull.


Variety abounds

Look at your order guide like it’s a playbook. Just as a good coach won’t rely on just a few plays, you should strive to carry every citrus item available from your distribution center or warehouse. If you stock everything from grapefruit to tangelos to kumquats, you’ll have ample opportunities to capture extra sales on an ongoing basis.


Merchandising and Sampling

Keep your orders close, and your inventories tight for the freshest product. Citrus should be displayed in high-traffic areas, with power items such as navel oranges and clementines commanding end caps with regular spillovers on busy days for maximum effect. Load up bin and clementine crate displays in other areas of the store too, such as in lobby or sidewalk areas. Cull closely, rotate often and sign each display prominently, along with having bags within reach for easy shopping.

10-minute merchandiser citrus
Clementines are on a wild ride in popularity, and warrant their own breakout displays. 

Consider positioning citrus in smaller or pocket displays around the store for incremental sales. Items such as oranges, lemons and limes sell well near beer or wine displays for impulse shoppers. Same goes for baskets of lemons in front of the seafood for a good and colorful tie-in. Anywhere flavor can be enhanced, citrus ties in well.

Provide a range of sales options. Offer citrus fruit for sale in bulk, prepackaged bags and in tote bags for a spark of sales options.

This takes a couple of minutes — however, it’s always a good idea to cut and overwrap a few representative pieces of fruit to top off each display. The interior citrus flesh is a colorful, dynamic way to show off the goods.

Few produce items sample as easily as citrus. Have your demo team incorporate one or two items each week into their schedule. Alternatively, use the passive sampling method; leaving out a tray of cut samples near your display. Attend to this sample method regularly, keep clean and follow all
in-store food safety and health department guidelines. 


Coach your customers

Ever see a customer hesitate when considering to buy an avocado or a cantaloupe? It’s also true with citrus. That’s the time to step up and say something like, “Those are new crop California navel oranges. Typically they are available from early November until late spring. A good juicy orange (or any citrus for that matter), is heavy for its size. Let me show you … these also peel easy too, like this.” A little selection-direction goes a long way to winning over a citrus customer.


Take advantage of trends

Whoever said “Don’t fruit the beer!” Isn’t a true produce person, as we like to fruit everything. Certainly oranges and limes pair well with some craft brew. Other fruits, especially citrus lends itself naturally to Sangria. Citrus is a must for not only juicing, libations and winter holidays but also for snacks, lunches, even garnishes and fruit trays. If the citrus application fits, push it.

Citrus provides wonderful color contrasts and best of all, weighs in as a top earner. The category translates into pounds and frequent rings, which help build basket size, customer satisfaction, as well as a steady contribution to a produce department’s sales and gross profit margins.

The category isn’t just good; it’s downright appealing. 

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