Florida growers launch new fresh citrus brand

12/12/2012 09:40:00 AM
Vicky Boyd

Sun Lion brand point-of-sale materialCourtesy The Sunshine Story LLCTwo veteran Florida citrus producers have teamed to launch Legend of Sun Lion brand tangerines this season.

The two also have pledged 10 percent of net profits toward conservation efforts for the endangered Florida panther, the official state animal, according to a news release.

Lake Wales growers Vic Story and Marty McKenna helped found The Sunshine Story LLC, the Lakeland-based company behind the new tangerine brand.

The brand is based on a children's story about Sun Lion, a Florida panther kitten that protects the land from nasty Night Boars that want to uproot citrus trees.

The two growers say they hope the brand appeals to children and adults alike.

"We see this as a fun fruit," says company president David Gornoski.

Although the varieties they plan to market have seeds, he says surveys have shown that seeds are not a deal breaker among consumers, especially children.

Instead, Gornoski says, consumers look for fruit that tastes good and may have tangible benefits beyond just personal health.

Being grown in Florida and viewed as locally produced by residents is an added plus, he says.

This season, the fruit will be available in 3-pound clear mesh bags with a Kwik Lok fastener.  A dark blue horizontal banner on the bag features Sun Lion and product information.

Gornoski says they chose the packaging to showcase the fruit and stand out from other similar citrus products.

"The clear mesh allows the actual tangerine color to pop against the blue background," he says.

The bag design also is remiscent of those used by the Florida citrus industry decades ago, creating a somewhat nostalgic feel, Gornoski says.

The company's initial focus is tangerines, but they plan to eventually expand into other fresh Florida citrus varieties.

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