When shopping for citrus, customers have varying expectations when it comes to tangerines and grapefruit.
“Convenience is huge in the tangerine category. People want things that peel very easily and that you can pull the sections apart. They want it to be juicy enough to be refreshing, but they don’t want it to be drippy,” said Peter Chaires, executive director, New Varieties Development & Management Corp.
A grower-funded nonprofit, New Varieties Development works with the University of Florida and the USDA on their citrus breeding programs.
On top of tasting good and not dripping, customers also want those tangerines to have a nice appearance. Chaires said his group holds display days where consumers can try new varieties and rate their response to the fruit.
“Now with grapefruit and pomelo, rather than pure convenience in those you want high juice content, but appearance is important probably, but mainly it’s a flavor issue,” Chaires said.
Retailers can expect more citrus varieties coming out Florida in the next few years.
“There’s a lot going on with variety development right now. We don’t have a lot that’s at the commercial retail level yet. Right now we have a couple varieties that are just starting to hit the packing house this year.”
For instance, the University of Florida’s Sugar Belle, the half-clementine, half-mineola fruit, will be available in December. And in October, the USDA’s US Early Pride, a low seedless variety, will start off the citrus season.
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