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Mike Knowles



MMG trials Australian easy-peel orange

The UK citrus importer is planning a one-month trial of the Navel in Sainsbury's stores across the country

MMG trials Australian easy-peel orange

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Leading importer MMG Citrus is preparing to introduce a new super-sweet, easy-peel Navel orange to the UK market in a bid to reverse a recent decline in sales attributed mainly to a lack of product convenience.

The oranges, which will be sold as part of a month-long trial starting tomorrow in branches of UK supermarket chain Sainsbury's, are being sourced from Australia.

The fruit will be delivered in packs of two bearing the retailer's Taste the Difference premium label.

Back in June, data published by market analyst TNS appeared to confirm that the orange was continuing to lose ground in the UK market as a result of the seemingly unstoppable rise of the easypeeler.

Despite growth in the UK citrus market of 66 per cent to €706m (£553m) during the past nine years (to 13 July), the category share for oranges has fallen considerably, from 37 per cent in 1999 to 27 per cent today.

In a bid to make orange consumption a more convenient experience and tap into the kind of market where consumers tend to eat on the go, MMG is hoping to offer something new within the orange category and provide the kind of added value which is a regular fixture in the soft citrus market.

According to MMG's commercial director Garry Cirillo, the Navel is already a favourite among Australian consumers. “Whilst this orange isn’t an entirely new variety, in its home market in Australia, it's big news and has a strong following," he commented. "The proof of the orange is definitely going to be in the eating. If consumer feedback is as good as we expect, we’re really hopeful that we can increase volumes and introduce the variety to other growers around the world to increase availability.”

The Australian easy-peel Navel is said to have the added bonus of being light on pith, breaking into segments easily and not creating any mess during the peeling process, making it perfect for a desktop snack.

Formally established in May 2007, MMG Citrus is a major supplier of citrus to the UK market. The company is a joint venture owned 50 per cent by fresh produce specialists Fresca Group Ltd and 50 per cent by E Martinavarro SA.

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