(IMG) — IMG Citrus, a family-owned, vertically integrated citrus grower, packer and shipper in Vero Beach, Florida, is reintroducing white grapefruit to the U.S. market. Most white grapefruit is exported directly from the United States to its primary market in Japan, where it maintains consistently high popularity. However, IMG Citrus will be expanding its white grapefruit consumer base to the U.S. market, reintroducing the original, heirloom Florida grapefruit to its homeland.
More commonly known to the American consumer is red grapefruit, a mutation of white and a staple in the citrus aisle. While grapefruit in the United States is primarily grown in Florida, Texas and California, Florida is the only state in the country where white grapefruit is grown. While citrus farmers in Florida have continued to replant an abundance of red grapefruit after the impact of yearly hurricanes, over the course of the past 30 to 40 years, growers have not replanted a significant amount of white grapefruit.
However, with IMG Citrus’ recent acquisition of Emerald Grove in St. Lucie County, renamed the Happy Food Grove after its consumer brand, IMG Citrus is now one of the largest growers and suppliers of Florida red and white grapefruit, producing approximately 50 percent of all white grapefruit in Florida. Along with its 4,000-acre investment, IMG Citrus will begin selling white grapefruit in the United States, where the company has been selling citrus domestically for decades.
A vital factor regarding the taste of white grapefruit relies significantly on the age of the tree. The older the tree, the better the taste. The vast majority of white grapefruit originating from Florida comes from trees which are more than 25 years old. Additionally, all white grapefruit is grown in the Indian River region, the best region for growing grapefruit.
IMG Citrus will reintroduce white grapefruit to the U.S. market under its primary consumer brand, Happy Food, utilizing contemporary branding to help differentiate the newly added variety for the consumer. The Happy Food brand features happy fruit faces and bright colors, cheerfully lighting up the citrus aisle with a celebratory “be healthy, be happy” slogan.
IMG Citrus will have white grapefruit in promotable volumes and availability in various sizes. In the future, IMG Citrus is also planning to release white grapefruit as a specialty item to consumers in Europe, including the Netherlands, Belgium and France.
“When red and white grapefruit are displayed next to each other, they complement each other nicely. This type of display is very common with Japanese retailers,” says Michel Sallin, IMG Citrus president. “IMG Citrus is excited to bring white grapefruit back to the U.S. market, providing consumers with more grapefruit variety.”
Source: IMG Citrus
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