ClemenGold mandarins are available almost year-round, produced on farms geographically spread across South Africa from June to October and then from November to May from partner farms in Spain and Morocco. This lengthened availability and growing volumes have bolstered the global growth of the brand over the past few years. ClemenGold mandarins are currently supplied to multiple clients across the globe.

“The ClemenGold brand creates demand and it allows us to have an inspiring conversation with our retail partners in various parts of the world to discuss what demand we can create for the product. By supporting retailers with branded products, we create brand recognition from which we create demand. It’s a proactive conversation: what can we do for the product for the upcoming season, as opposed to going into markets that are either empty or full with volatility in price. That’s the aim: we work with retailers, create demand through their customer base and create stability in terms of where we distribute our product,” explains Ansgar Flaatten from ClemenGold.

Huge Chinese appetite for ClemenGold mandarins
The company introduced their mandarins to China more than five years ago, continues his colleague Andy Froggatt, business development executive at the company, noting that it takes time to open a new market and establish a brand. In China they have multiple receivers while in certain European countries they supply a single retailer, like Edeka in Germany or Musgrave in Ireland. “It depends on the retailer in the market, what they want to achieve and what we want to achieve from a branding perspective.

Europe and the UK are still major markets for soft citrus, but the appetite for their product is huge in China. Brexit doesn’t unduly worry them, and the UK is a well-established trading partner.

The ClemenGold brand also allows them to take fruit with the same quality specs and clothe it with a different brand, they explain, and in the USA they work in partnership with the Halos brand. Similarly, in Norway their mandarins are packed into Bama-Gruppen’s Cevita brand and in the UK into private retail labels. “It’s all about a branded strategy to secure supermarket shelf space,” Andy says.

The company’s endgame is to capture shelf space and the hearts of consumers which could translate to price stability, and it’s a philosophy they share with their grower partners.

“You shouldn’t keep supply back from customers to wait for a higher price,” says Charlene Nieuwoudt, ANB Investments communications manager. “The benefit of being part of a brand is always bigger, deriving from the whole value chain because we’re developing new markets and building an international brand. For a grower there is a premium for branded fruit because there’s backing in all marketing channels. ClemenGold is one of the only citrus brands that has such a tight spec from which we don’t deviate. Buyers and consumers are assured of consistency which is one of the benefits of backing the brand. That strict spec is what differentiates us. That’s a key principle for the brand – consistency in product.”

The expansion in soft citrus plantings around the world has been tremendous but there is a lot of variability in product, depending on the country of origin, Andy says. “Some countries we see as competition and some we don’t.”

The majority of fruit packed under the ClemenGold brand are the Nadorcott cultivar, but the company has developed new cultivars that fit their strict criteria to supplement the package in markets that allow flexibility. Leanri, for instance, is an earlier mandarin but it has a slightly different taste profile. For that reason, Charlene explains, Leanri is not marketed as a ClemenGold mandarin in South Africa where consumers at high-end retailer Woolworths (where ClemenGold is a flagship product, often displayed near store entrances) would conceivably discern the difference. In other markets Leanri is included in the ClemenGold package but, as always, they let themselves be led by the wishes of the retailer and, ultimately, the consumer.

“Some customers will not deviate from Nadorcott, while others like including other cultivars. We’re always led by the market,” says Andy. “In the early days we could offer ClemenGold for three months of the year, now it’s ten or eleven months and we’re aiming for twelve.”

LemonGold seedless lemons
Another exciting development in the citrus category has been the launch of seedless lemons, for which their cultivar development company Citrogold procured rights from Australia and South Africa.

“We branded it LemonGold seedless lemons and initially eight South African growers have been the first to produce the product,” Charlene says. “It’s clear that the consumer wants it and the growth will follow.”

The coming season looks to be a good one. The South African farms in total form part of more than 25 different water schemes. “We’re very focused on scientific measurement of agricultural inputs in order to preserve scarce resources like water,” Ansgar says.

“We have a very positive outlook in the company,” Charlene notes. “There are certain realities in South Africa and we find solutions and make plans long before they become problems. Every country has its own set of problems.” –