“It is important that we know where we come from, because if you do not know where you come from, then you don’t know where you are, and if you don’t know where you are, you don’t know where you’re going. And if you don’t know where you’re going, you’re probably going wrong.”
― Terry Pratchett, I Shall Wear Midnight
After everything we’ve endured, suggesting that we take a leisurely look back at the last year will likely get you viciously pelted with mountains of unused and unwanted RAT tests.
Our industry has its complications and frustrations like any other. However, compared to the insanity that’s gripped the globe over the past couple of years, fruit looks like a pretty uncomplicated, safe space. So, as the sweet, sweet sound of harvester engines firing up for the new Aussie Citrus season drifts gently across the Murray, it’s with slight trepidation that we take a few cautious steps down memory lane and dare to reminisce about the year that was 2021… Dracula Citrus™ style.
Australian Citrus Exports to the USA in 2021
In addition to the formidable challenges posed by COVID lockdowns, labour shortages and international shipping mayhem, the horrifically wet weather conditions made it one of the most challenging growing seasons in recent memory. However, we’re a hardy, resourceful and tenacious bunch, so thanks to a monumental amount of hard work, there were still plenty of positives in 2021 for Australian Citrus growers. The total estimated citrus export quantity of over 8400 tons was slightly up on the previous couple of years, which was no small feat under the circumstances.
Of that quantity, 4817 tonnes of oranges and 3572 tonnes of mandarins made up the lion’s share of Aussie citrus shipped to the Land of the Free. While not our largest market (China, Japan and other Asian trading partners take more), that’s nonetheless a lot of fruit, folks!
So, how did we do? While the tumultuous season was one that most in the industry would rather forget, we’re proud to say that we emerged with some solid achievements to show for the bruises.
A brief disclaimer here: the numbers you’re about to be thrilled and amazed by refer to sales made by our parent company Pinnacle Fresh. While not all Pinnacle products are sold under the Dracula brand, we’re proud to be the flagship of the organisation. And anyway, we’re all one big, happy family here at Pinnacle, so what’re a few hundred tonnes of fruit between siblings? And now, we return you to our regular programming.
A whopping 1759 tonnes of our oranges (primarily Navel and Blood varieties) made it to American shores. For those playing at home, that’s no less than 36.52% of the total market. While it would be unseemly to gloat (too much), with about 8-10 companies exporting to the US, it’s a pretty safe bet that this puts us at the very top of the leaderboard.
Americans are in the midst of a torrid love affair with mandarins, making them the fastest-growing segment of the market at the moment. However, the US market is being flooded with cheap mandies from Chile, which is pricing Australian producers out of the market. While the 460 tonnes of the succulent snackables we shipped Stateside is a volume that any hungry vampire would be happy to sink their teeth into, the 13% market share we held represents a slight decrease from previous years.
We’ve always been incredibly proud of our fruit. These impressive results are a testament to the hard work of every member of our family, from growers to the sales and marketing team – each of whom deserves credit for rising to the challenges and delivering superb quality products.
With the worst impacts of the pandemic seemingly behind us and plenty of rain forecast for the winter, we’re looking forward to even bigger things in 2022!
It’s Citrus Marketing, Vlad. But Not As We Know It.
Aside from killing it in the export market, 2021 was the year in which we pushed all our marketing chips into the middle of the table and declared ourselves all-in. Our branding, digital presence, social media game and content strategy all experienced a radical makeover last year.
Citrus fruit is delicious, but you’d be hard-pressed to describe it as, well, sexy. Conventional wisdom has long held that there is only so much creativity that can be applied to spruiking oranges and lemons.
We started with the goal of redefining what is possible in citrus marketing and creating a truly novel concept that would completely differentiate us from other suppliers. We wanted it to be vibrant and cheeky. We wanted it to be funky and fun. We wanted it to have bite. And that’s how Dracula was born.
With the help of a pretty awesome branding and design agency, the Dracula concept rose from the creative crypt and took on a fruity life of its own. Pretty soon, we had a whole family of creepy characters to represent each of our citrus varieties and embody our vision, mission and brand values. Couple that with stunning, eye-catching graphics and you’ve got something unique and special. The next step was to leverage our new identity everywhere that counts:
Two Gorgeous New Websites
The Pinnacle Fresh website was perfectly functional. However, our new branding mojo needed something with significantly more pizzaz. With that goal in mind, we boldly stepped out of our comfort zone and launched two spectacular websites – one for the US and one for Australia.
These sites were intended to cement our brand, communicate the quality and benefits of our products and serve as a reliable, entertaining and engaging source of information. We’ve had a steady stream of positive feedback about our sites, which have generated some fruitful (pun only slightly intended) conversations with consumers and importers.
2. Quality Content
The internet is filled with pretty websites. However, a site needs to communicate effectively to its target audience to establish the brand as an authoritative, reliable source of useful and engaging information. From the web page copy to a growing complement of blogs such as the one you’re reading now, we’ve made a break from the dry, fairly formal tone that characterises our industry’s online experience. Our blogs have earned a solid readership for their blend of well-researched, fascinating information and the cheeky, irreverent tone that we think gels perfectly with our brand. Pieces on the health benefits of blood oranges, the pernicious scourge of fruit fraud and “the surprisingly tantalising history of Citrus fruit in Australia have been entertaining, informing and delighting visitors to the site while helping to reinforce our position as a thought leader in the industry. Even Google loves our blogs! Search for “are blood oranges good for you”, and you’ll see what we mean.
A Competitive Streak
One of the highlights of the last year was a collaboration with The Addams Family 2 movie on a cross-promotional competition. This blood-curdling brush with Tinseltown was a spectacular affirmation of our marketing work. While the symbiosis of the two brands is clear as a crisp Transylvanian night sky, the chance to associate our fledgeling image with such an established Hollywood franchise was an incredible boost. Thousands of entrants from Australia, the USA and Puerto Rico vied with each other for the chance of a lifetime to win spooky Scarecations (a trip to the Gold Coast for Australian entrants and to the NYC Halloween parade for Nth American customers), as well as spine-chilling Addams Family swag and other exciting prizes.
What a Year It Was
Many people could be forgiven for wanting to forget 2021. There’s no question that we faced a battalion of challenges that made it arguably the most complicated and trying for decades. Like anything in life, we’re defined not by the challenges we face, but by how we respond to them. We’re exceptionally proud of the fact that despite the complexities we were able to post some excellent commercial results. Along the way, we’ve learned a tremendous amount that can only serve to make us stronger and smarter as we gird our loins in preparation for the 2022 harvest season.