Citrus needs a story to sell: marketing professor

Oranges have been labelled the ‘forgotten fruit’ by an Australian marketing expert and recommended the citrus industry start telling a story to improve sales.

Professor David Hughes from the Food Marketing school at Imperial College in London told the Citrus Australia National Conference in South Australia’s Barossa Valley that consumers “want to hear a story” to prove why they should choose Australian citrus as compared to other fruit.

“Consumers don’t know a lot about food, or where it comes from, and they need to hear it constantly, because it doesn’t stay in their heads very long,” he told the conference.

“Whether it’s about the grower, the region of origin, or special varieties, you have to build a story around your fruit, and few food-producing industries do it well.”

Hughes said research recently conducted proved citrus had been forgotten.
“People see an orange as an orange,” he explained.

“They don’t understand that international production is seasonal, and that they’re buying different varieties of oranges from different parts of the world during the year.”

Hughes also recommended other ways the industry can improve sales, including making it easier to actually eat the fruit, according to Citrus Australia chair Judith Damiani.

“He said oranges had declined in popularity because they were inconvenient to eat – they’re difficult to peel, and you get juice and citrus oil on your hands, which is inconvenient,” she said.

He said the industry should explore some of the ways consumers like to consume fruit, like in a smoothie, juice, or pre sliced and packaged.

“He also talked about the industry itself, and how it could exploit the economies of scale to keep prices down. It’s really tough out there in the retail industry, so growers need to do everything they can to reduce costs. If they can’t, they should exit the industry,” she said.

The impact of the high Australian dollar on export was also discussed at the conference, as well as the variability of the fruits year-to-year.

Yesterday it was revealed that Australian citrus growers are establishing their own juice label.

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