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FEATURED AUSTRALIA FOOD REPORT: Colourful citrus grows in popularity as shoppers seek seasonal Vitamin C boost


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Ace Press News From Cutting Room Floor: Published: June.01: 2023:

#AceFoodDesk – New varieties of citrus like cara cara navels and blood oranges are growing in popularity, but farmers say supermarkets need to stock more to grow demand.

Half of a cut cara cara orange, with pink blush flesh, is held up by a white person's hand.
Cara cara oranges have a flesh with a pink blush hue and are growing in popularity.(Supplied: Penny Reidy)none

South Australian Produce Market communications manager Penny Reidy said retailers could help drive sales by cutting up fruit for display.

“They all quite often look the same on the outside, so if you’re just scanning the aisle you really can’t tell the difference,” she said.

“It’s not until you open it up that you realise it has a different flesh colour and a different flavour profile.”

A blonde white woman in a red scarf and navy jacket, Penny, cuts a cara cara orange open with a knife in an orchard.
Penny Reidy says grocers should cut open cara cara and blood orange varieties to display their colours. (Supplied: Penny Reidy)none

Ms Reidy said cara cara navels, which have a pink flesh, have been attracting more interest from consumers in the last four to five years.


“They’re a medium-sized navel that’s seedless, sweet, low in acid, really easy to peel and they actually contain 20 per cent more vitamin C than a navel,” she said. 

Ms Reidy said a more established market for blood oranges was bolstered by having a slight blush to its skin, which hinted at its vibrant deep red flesh and raspberry and rose flavours.


“They are great for cocktails and great for a burst of colour, so we’re seeing lots of Instagrammers using them as well,” she said.Blood oranges are popular to photograph due to their vibrant deep red flesh.(ABC Rural: Laurissa Smith)none


Securing supply

Citrus SA chair Mark Doecke grows cara cara navels in his orchards at Sunlands in South Australia’s Riverland, about two hours from Adelaide.

” The tonnage on them is slowly coming up but they’re worth trying because they’ve got a really sweet aftertaste,” he said.

Mr Doecke said despite a cooler spring delaying harvest and leading to smaller early varieties he was pleased with the quality of mid-season varieties.

” A mild summer produces a virtually cool-climate citrus, so the flavours are awesome this year,” he said.

“If you haven’t got the 45-degree day they don’t shut down from stress. It could have been a little bit warmer but it was almost the perfect summer.”Mark Doecke says he expects to see an increased supply of cara cara navels this year.(ABC Riverland: Anita Ward)none

Rod Sharp has been growing blood oranges for 17 years on his Mundubbera property 180 kilometres south-west of Bundaberg.

But after a lack of consistent orders from supermarkets he decided to send his fruit to a local juicing factory……….” I think there’s a massive demand,” he said.

“I’ve got no doubt if we could get these onto the shelves at a good cheap price that people [would] love them, but it’s just too difficult to supply them.Matthew Benham says grapefruit peaked in popularity in the 1980s amid a health fad.(ABC Rural: Abbey Halter)none

It is not just oranges that are sporting different colours.

Matthew Benham grows red-fleshed star ruby grapefruit at Benyendah Citrus in Gayndah, 150 kilometres south-west of Bundaberg.


Mr Benham said there was renewed interest in grapefruit, but it hadn’t quite had its resurgence yet.

“The perception people have is that a grapefruit is sour and bitter, and you’ve got to cut them in half and put sugar on them,” he said.

“That was probably true with some of the early yellow varieties like the marsh grapefruit.

Whereas, if they’re picked properly, you should be able to cut them in half and quarter them and eat them like an orange. They’re sweet.”

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