Sweeter oranges will benefit everyone
After years of study and tasting, navel orange growers have come to a consensus as to how a orange should taste before it is sent to market.
Last month, the California Citrus Research Board, California Citrus Mutual and California Department of Agriculture and United States Department of Agriculture jointly announced the California StandardTM, which is the new standard by which all California navels will be measured to ensure the best tasting fruit possible is put before consumers.
The idea, pointed out one local grower, is so consumers are not turned off by sour fruit early in the season. It is especially important for foreign and out of state markets that get a lot of that early fruit. If they are not turned off by sour fruit, research shows, they are likely to purchase more oranges throughout the season.
For years, the industry has tried to come up with a standard that is acceptable to all. Most impacted are the growers of those early varieties that are first to reach market, but the standard is for all growers. California StandardTM is the result of those years of research.
The goal is to present a navel orange that is tastier and more consistently tastier and one that will keep consumers buying oranges. Research found that early season navels have low customer satisfaction and that a better tasting orange would cause 65% of consumers to eat more oranges. With increasing competition from foreign markets, it is important that local growers present the best tasting orange they can.
With navel oranges the No. 1 crop on the east side of Tulare County and the No. 2 ag commodity overall, the new standard should be welcomed. The standard will strengthen markets where navels are already sold, and help to open new markets. All of that will benefit all growers, even those growing varieties other than just navels. And, in turn, selling more oranges will mean more jobs for those in the orange industry.