Issue Winter 14
As a leading California grower, vertically integrated Sun Pacific grows, packs, markets and sells citrus, table grapes, tomatoes and kiwi for customers worldwide. Best known for its Cuties brand clementines, Sun Pacific is a very large navel orange shipper, the largest Kiwi fruit grower in North America and overall one of the leading growers in California’s San Joaquin Valley, the company says.
Farming more than 30,000 acres, Sun Pacific grows and ships tens of million cartons of Cuties clementine and mandarin oranges, air chief navel and Valencia oranges, tomatoes, Minneola tangerines, lemons, air chief table grapes and Mighties Ripe & Easy Kiwi fruit each year to domestic and international markets.
“Cuties is one of the most recognizable brands in the supermarket today,” President Bob DiPiazza says. One thing that makes Sun Pacific unique is its vertical integration. “We grow the vast majority of what we sell, and that makes us fairly unique.”
The company has expanded rapidly since it was founded in 1969 by Berne Evans on less than 100 acres of navel oranges.
He grew the company with a passion for quality and service, and by reinvesting profits to acquire and cultivate more land to expand the assortment beyond oranges.
“Berne pioneered the California mandarin orange industry and was instrumental in developing the demand and huge following for Cuties,” says DiPiazza.
Sun Pacific also built a beverage plant at its clementine groves and launched Califia Farms as a subsidiary beverage company.
Sun Pacific’s vertical integration and product ownership provides some other key advantages, DiPiazza says.
“The buck stops with us,” he explains. “If there is a problem, we own it. We use our experience and best practices in farming and packing as a competitive advantage to deliver on consistency and high quality. From farm to fork, we have the responsibility for what goes into the package.”
Rise of the Kiwi
Sun Pacific, as the exclusive marketer of Mighties Ripe and Easy Kiwi, is ramping up production to meet the demand. Realizing that consumption in the U.S. was not at the levels consumed in Europe and Canada, Sun Pacific developed a proprietary ripening protocol that delivered ready-to-eat kiwi to supermarket shelves.
To appeal to fast-paced, on-the-go American shoppers, Sun Pacific emphasizes that Mighties kiwi don’t need to be peeled and sliced. “You simply ‘just scoop and eat’ with a spoon,” DiPiazza says. American consumers are often unaware that kiwi has more potassium than a banana, more vitamin C than an orange and more fiber than a bowl of bran cereal. “The high graphic Mighties packaging communicates this ease of preparation and the nutritional density of this truly superfood,” he explains. Sun Pacific compares kiwi to avocado, which was once minimal and now has become a high-volume product.
“We are confident that Mighties brand Kiwi will experience some of the same success we have seen with Cuties,” DiPiazza states.
Sun Pacific is no stranger to product and brand development. Its Cuties brand brought Clementines to new markets and sales soared.
This season, Cuties will reach an even larger audience. “Sun Pacific is excited to be a supplier to all U.S. McDonald’s restaurants, and that Cuties will be a side choice for Happy Meals or available a la carte starting in late November,” DiPiazza says.