Sunkist Grower Golden State Poised for Specialty Citrus Growth

SHERMAN OAKS, Calif. -- When Golden State Citrus Packers an affiliate of Visalia Citrus Packing Group (VCPG) and Sunkist here begins the new fall citrus season, it will throw the switch on the latest in packing technology in expanded and improved quarters that will better serve its growers and customers -- especially in the area of specialty citrus.

"We’ll be able to handle everything from small, fragile mandarins to the largest pummelos, and everything in between," said VCPG president and Sunkist board member Randy Veeh. "We added a new specialty line and made changes to our orange line to operate more flexibly to meet the needs of consumers and buyers and to better serve our growers."

Veeh said the company decided to invest in the upgrades now "in order to be ready when the large number of new easy-peeling varieties comes online in the next few years. The industry is changing, and we are committed to being on the cutting edge."

Sunkist's sales performance for the specialty varieties was nothing less than spectacular in 2006, added Veeh, with revenues for varieties such as clementines, moros, and cara caras up 19 percent from 2005, and 51 percent from 2004.

The Visalia, Calif.-based based business began in 1945, when seven local growers joined forces to build the Visalia Citrus Association packinghouse, and became affiliated with Sunkist Growers at that time.

The Tri-County Citrus plant at Orange Cove was added in 1964. Three years later the private company acquired the Lemon Cove Association house at Woodlake and changed its name to Golden State Citrus Packers.
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