California Citrus

March 6, 2008 8:36:06 PM PST
Hundreds of orange growers from across the state came to Visalia looking for ideas on how to squeeze out more profits.Hundreds of local citrus growers and exhibitors came out here to the Visalia Convention Center.

From going green to improving accountability in food safety, growers are trying everything to get more people around the world to buy California Citrus.

The halls were buzzing at the Visalia Convention Center on Thursday as citrus growers and agriculture technology developers showed off and tasted their latest products.

The showcase has been sponsored by citrus mutual for the last 12 years. President Joel Nelsen says, this year growers are focusing on beating out international competitors.

Joel Nelsen, Ca Citrus Mutual President: "We export 40% of our product oversees we sell to all 50 states around the country but consumers have a choice! We know that they have a Spanish citrus they have more apples they have more fruit coming in from South America.

With last year's devastating freeze still on many peoples' minds, growers are looking for new ways to help their citrus stand out at the supermarkets.

One way could be with this new energy-saving machine. This citrus rinsing machine actually recycles its water.

Dave Sorenson, FGS Packing Services: "It eliminates us from having to back flush so sometimes depending on the water quality you could save 1,000-2,000 gallons a day of water

Sorenson says a special, thin filter recycles water that would otherwise be washed away with debris and other dirt collected with citrus. Growers hope consumers will also enjoy brand new barcode food labels that can store tracking data. Right now the new labels are only being used on Washington apples but superstore Wal-Mart hopes to pick them up.

Christina Campos, FMC Food Technology: "So you're able to know where it came from and hopefully when it was packed and what country and all that information that's going to be important for consumers."

Nelsen tells me consumers bought about $400-million dollars worth of foreign citrus. He's hoping Thursday showcase will help keep that money local.


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