Californians Stewart and Lynda Resnick and their company “The Wonderful Company” believe that they can make a fortune off of the humble grapefruit. The company has already achieved success reviving the pomegranate and the mandarin orange.
The President of The Wonderful Company David Krause said, “We really do have a chance to change the future of red grapefruit. We love it, we think consumers will too if they’ll try it. Just try the stuff.”
Wonderful has started the grapefruit promotion by purchasing several miles of grapefruit groves and packing houses in Texas. The company also purchased a processing plant, and it has introduced new methods of planting and pruning.
The company will be concentrating its efforts on the Rio Red variety of grapefruit. This strain is native to Texas, and it is known for its high sugar content and deep red flesh. It thrives in conditions that feature hot days and cool nights.
However, the Rio Red is controversial in the grapefruit community. Unlike other varieties of grapefruits, it is much less bitter. Some grapefruit enthusiasts are wondering if the world is ready for a sweeter grapefruit.
Food analyst Rachel Royster explained, “It is often polarizing among consumers. They either love it or hate it.”
The grapefruit has been in decline for decades. In 1976, Americans consumed an average of nine pounds of grapefruits per person. Last year, this figure was down to just two pounds per person.
Many people believe that the fall of the grapefruit has been caused by the fact that it is difficult to peel. Additionally, the general shift towards sweeter foods in America has not been in favor of the citrus fruit.
Making matters worse is that the United States Food and Drug Administration has warned that consuming grapefruits while taking certain drugs designed to lower one’s cholesterol can lead to kidney failure.
The Wonderful Company has marketed the Rio Red grapefruit as “Wonderful Sweet Scarletts”. The product is named after Resnick’s granddaughter, and it features a smiling girl sporting a long braid and a bright red cowboy hat.
It’s difficult to say right now if the move will be successful, but Royster believes that this could be the time of the grapefruit.
“A lot of healthier options are bland and boring. The Grapefruit has a great sharp taste that is far from boring,” she said.
The Wonderful Company currently controls almost 75% of all grapefruit production in the state of Texas, which is the second largest producer of grapefruits in the United States. Florida is the leading producer.
However, The Wonderful Company will face some stiff competition. Just last month, their archrivals, The Lone Star Citrus Growers, introduced their own sweet grapefruit called “Winter Sweetz”.
Vice president of sales for Lone Star Trent Bishop said, “There is a very, very positive energy associated with the grapefruit.”
But it’s still fair to ask if the grapefruit can be saved. It’s large, bulky, hard to eat and it has a bad reputation among fruit lovers. Not many people can picture themselves stuffing a grapefruit in their lunchbox or brown bag.
Despite these challenges, Krause says that The Wonderful Company has no plans to genetically alter the controversial fruit.
“We just don’t have any plans to change the natural characteristics of the product. We think a little bit of effort will move the needle quite substantially,” he said.
So for now, be on the lookout for the humble grapefruit. It just might be making a big comeback.