A new variety of seedless lemons recently hit the market, and the company founders are betting that the new citrus will dominate the fresh lemon market in the next 15 years.
- Husband and wife team Stewart and Lynda Resnick’s The Wonderful Company have produced a new seedless lemon that it hopes will rival current industry leader Sunkist.
- Wonderful produces pistachios, almonds, Fiji Water, and Pom Wonderful—generating $5 billion in annual sales.
- Citrus products have long been the company’s specialty, and now Wonderful is focusing on its new line of seedless lemons.
- Seedless lemons are in high demand, leading to Wonderful’s competitors attempting to breed their own varieties. However, others still have some seeds inside, Forbes reports.
- Wonderful has an exclusive 12-year license on the new variety of lemons.
Why it’s news
Wonderful’s access to the new variety of lemon gives it a head start in production. Lemon trees take around three years to bear fruit and about five years before they are fully mature. Even if other companies can produce a seedless lemon, it will be years before they can successfully enter the market.
The new seedless lemons debuted in 2020. Wonderful sold around 91,000 cases in just that first year. This year, the company expects to sell 60 million pounds of lemons. If Wonderful reaches its goal of 25% market share, it would sell 400 million pounds of lemons worth $370 million. Sunkist currently dominates about 50% of the lemon market, Forbes reports.
While the lemons come at a higher price than traditionally grown lemons, Wonderful found that its target audience is health-conscious and has a higher income. California, Midwest, and Texas customers have shown the most interest in the lemon varieties.
Wonderful’s goal is to eventually control 25% of the U.S. lemon market. To achieve this goal, Wonderful must grow lemons on around 15,000 acres of its land in California and Mexico. This will require the company to make its other products a lower priority.
Already the company has planted lemons on around 7,500 acres in its California and Mexico locations. In the next five years, Wonderful anticipates its production will increase by 280%, Forbes reports.
The California-based company is investing strongly in this new product partially out of necessity. Wonderful once controlled a large part of the mandarin market, but over the last decade, competitors have taken back around 20% of the market. Today, Wonderful controls around 30% of the mandarin market. If the company can establish a foothold in the seedless lemon industry, it can strengthen its hold on the overall citrus market.