On the Western Cape of South Africa, 178km from Cape Town alongside the national road to Namibia lies Citrusdal, a district famous for its citrus orchards – and home to Goede Hoop Citrus Ltd., a new partner in Sunkist Growers' global sourcing program.

Under the new agreement, Sunkist Global LLC, a division of Sunkist Growers headquartered in Sherman Oaks, Calif., and Goede Hoop will work together to market South African citrus under the Sunkist brand in the United States. As part of the agreement, Fisher-Capespan, a pioneer in the importation of South African fruit to the U.S. market, will act as the master agent to facilitate the import logistics.

"With this program Sunkist is increasing its ability to be a year-round supplier of the entire citrus category by marketing high quality South African seedless oranges in the U.S.," said Sunkist President and CEO Jeff Gargiulo. "Our new relationship is an example of merging the best synergies of three experienced citrus companies to benefit both suppliers and customers."

In 2005 Sunkist will be marketing South African grown Clementines, navel oranges and seedless MidKnight Valencia oranges. The first arrivals, new crop Clementines, are expected into Gloucester, N.J., around June 6. Navel arrivals are expected about June 20, with seedless MidKnights arriving in early autumn.

"Because of seasonally, Sunkist is not always able to meet its customers' demand for summer seedless citrus," said Gargiulo. "With our growing global relationships, we are able to marry the demands of Sunkist’s customers with the highest quality supply under our internationally recognized brand.

"Goede Hoop shares with Sunkist a long-standing heritage of employing the highest standards in growing, harvesting, packing and transporting citrus," Gargiulo added. "Our companies share the same values – commitment to safety and quality and to unparalleled customer service."

"We are very excited about the 2005 program," said Petri Fourie, managing director of Goede Hoop Vrugte. "The Sunkist brand carries the promise of quality, fresh taste and good nutritional benefits with which we are proud to be associated. And Sunkist's commitment to customer service is well respected the world over."

As part of its strategy to meet world buyer demand for year around high quality citrus under the Sunkist brand, Sunkist last year began sourcing fruit from growers outside its historic California and Arizona production base.